Officials from North and South Korea have presented their idea of hosting a joint Olympic Games in 2032 to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Billed as a “historic initiative” by IOC President Thomas Bach, the proposed bid comes amid the softening of tensions between the two countries following last year’s Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang.
The meeting with the IOC at its headquarters in Lausanne was aimed at submitting a letter of intent to bid for the Games, as well as discussing the organisation’s support for further initiatives, including joint teams for Tokyo 2020.
The IOC have welcome the proposed joint bid and claimed they would be prepared to assist the two Koreas to further develop this project, despite the candidature process having been yet to begin.
This would potentially include offering the IOC’s expertise and visit from a joint working group to explore possibilities.
The IOC revealed they hope that ongoing political talks between the two countries, which are still technically at war having only signed an armistice at the end of the Korean War in 1953, will produce an outcome that could lead to a successful candidature and organisation of the Games.
“The discussions at the working meeting today are one further step showing how sport can once more make a contribution to peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world,” Bach said.
“We have a good foundation to build on and make further progress ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
“Sport will continue to build bridges and demonstrate the unifying power of the Olympic Games.
“Therefore, we warmly welcome the historic initiative of the two Koreas to put forward a joint Korean candidature for the Olympic Games 2032.”
The meeting with chaired by Bach, with North Korean Olympic Committee President and Minister of Physical Culture and Sport, Kim Il-guk, heading their delegation.
“The leaders of the two Koreas agreed that they intended to host the Olympic Games in 2032,” Kim said.
“I am very moved and excited by the prospect of bidding together with South Korea.
“We agree with the concepts put forward by South Korea, and ask for the support of President Bach and the IOC to jointly host the Olympic Games in Seoul and Pyongyang.”
Do Jong-hwan, South Korea’s Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism, led their delegation with their National Olympic Committee President Lee Kee-heung.
“South Korea greatly hopes to jointly host the Olympic Games 2032 with North Korea, and will work to successfully bid for the Games together,” said Do.
“Moving forward from our successful collaboration for the Olympic Winter Games Pyeongchang 2018, we will continue to work closely with North Korea for a successful candidature to host the Games in Seoul and Pyongyang.”
Should the joint Korean bid come to fruition, the two nations could go up against Australia, India, Indonesia and Germany.
These nations have expressed early interest in hosting the 2032 Olympics and Paralympics.
The working meeting also saw discussions over the prospect of unified Korean teams in sports at Tokyo 2020 based on successful qualification.
The IOC announced they had agreed to continue studying with International Federations of the prospect of unified Korean teams taking part in the qualification process for women’s basketball and hockey.
Qualification for the judo mixed team event, as well as the men’s and women’s four, quadruple sculls and eights events in rowing will also be assessed.
Unified Korean teams competed at the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang in August and September, in dragon boat racing, lightweight rowing and women’s basketball.
The unified Korean dragon boat team made history as they claimed gold in the women’s 500 metres race.
Unified teams have also featured at judo and table tennis competitions, while a joint team also featured at the men’s World Handball Championships last month.
The IOC revealed discussions will be based on established Olympic qualification systems, while they will consider further requests in other sports should they be made in time for qualifying competitions.
Tokyo 2020 have acknowledged the IOC announcement and stated they will continue to work with all parties to ensure athletes qualify in a “fair manner”.
“Tokyo 2020 is aware of today’s announcement by the IOC regarding the fielding of a combined North and South Korean team at the Tokyo 2020 Games,” Tokyo 2020 stated.
“It is the IOC which invites the participation of the NOCs and athletes of all countries and regions in the Olympic Games.
“Having worked closely with all related parties, Tokyo 2020 hopes that athletes from all countries and regions will be able to participate in a fair manner.”
The IOC promised athletes in the unified Korean teams will be subject to the same anti-doping testing programme as all other athletes before Tokyo 2020.
This followed the World Anti-Doping Agency’s (WADA) decision to declare Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s Anti-Doping Committee (DPRK ADC) non-compliant.
The DPRK ADC had not met a four-month deadline to “correct non-conformities”, which triggered automatic non-compliance.
The potential exclusion of athletes from the Olympic Games and barring North Korea from hosting any major international events were among the sanctions available to WADA due to the declaration of non-compliance.
But the Compliance Review Committee recommended neither consequence was appropriate or proportionate in this case.
The IOC claimed they will explore the possibility with WADA and other parties of providing additional support to the North Korea Olympic Committee to strengthen the fight against doping.
The organisation revealed they were advised by the two Korean NOCs and WADA that there is already an agreement in place with the China Anti-Doping Agency to resolve the situation as soon as possible.
Further discussions on the results of the meeting are expected to continue, with the IOC declaring any results with require the approval of their Executive Board at their next meeting from March 26 to 28 in Lausanne.