Pyongyang, Seoul to bid jointly for 2032 Olympics

North and South Korea have also agreed to participate jointly in international competitions, including the 2020 Summer Olympics.
North and South Korea have also agreed to participate jointly in international competitions, including the 2020 Summer Olympics.PHOTO: REUTERS

SEOUL • North and South Korea will bid jointly for the 2032 Olympics, the two countries announced yesterday, in an ambitious plan built on hopes of deepening a diplomatic thaw catalysed by this year's Winter Games in the South.

The proposal, which would require an unprecedented level of cooperation and mutual trust on the divided Korean peninsula, was included in a joint statement issued after a Pyongyang summit between the North's leader Kim Jong Un and the South's President Moon Jae-in.

"The South and North agreed to actively participate jointly in international competitions, including the 2020 Summer Olympics, and to cooperate in bidding for the South-North joint hosting of the 2032 Summer Olympics," the statement said.

No other details were given.

The North's decision to participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in February triggered a dramatic diplomatic turnaround on the peninsula this year.

It came after tensions mounted the previous year, with the North carrying out multiple missile launches and its most powerful nuclear test to date, and Mr Kim trading personal insults and threats of war with US President Donald Trump.

The Games in February saw athletes from the two Koreas march together at the opening ceremony behind a unification flag showing an undivided peninsula. The two countries also formed a unified women's ice hockey side.

Mr Kim sent his sister, Ms Kim Yo Jong, to Pyeongchang as his personal envoy, and he and Mr Moon have since met three times as part of an ongoing diplomatic rapprochement.

 
 
 

The two Koreas have continued their sports diplomacy, forming joint teams for the ITTF world table tennis championships and several events at the recent Asian Games in Indonesia, securing one gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

They have also held friendly basketball matches.

Olympics chief Thomas Bach said earlier this month he was open to talks with the two Koreas about marching and competing together at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

It is a marked contrast to the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics, which Pyongyang boycotted after it demanded co-hosting rights and negotiations fell apart over how to share the events.

North Korea's participation in hosting the Summer Games would be a watershed event requiring a degree of openness and financial muscle now lacking in the isolated and impoverished country.

It would also force an extraordinary level of cooperation between two Cold War foes that are still technically at war.

The first hint of a possible joint bid came last week when South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted the country's Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan as saying Seoul planned to propose the idea during this week's Pyongyang meeting.

Separately, for the 2030 Fifa World Cup, Mr Do said South Korea planned to propose a co-hosted tournament involving China, Japan and the two Koreas.

Earlier this month, Indonesia revealed its own intent to bid for the 2032 Olympics, riding high on its successful staging of the Asian Games.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 20, 2018, with the headline 'Pyongyang, Seoul to bid jointly for 2032 Olympics'. Print Edition | Subscribe