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  • IOC, Governments Set Inter-Korean Sports Meetings


    (ATR) Korean government officials will meet to discuss joint teams for the 2018 Asian Games, just days before the IOC will host Olympic officials from both countries.

    The joint Korean team marching at PyeongChang 2018 (ATR)
    The South Korean Unification Ministry confirmed last week that inter-Korean talks will be held on June 18. The talks will be in the village of Panmunjom in the Korean Demilitarized Zone “to discuss the issues of inter-Korean cooperation, including [joint teams in] advance of the Asian Games in 2018”.

    The talks are part of ongoing efforts by the North and South Korean governments to implement the Panmunjom Declaration from the third inter-Korean summit in April.

    Olympic Council of Asia President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah held a meeting with leaders of the North and South Korean National Olympic Committees last month. There it was decided that joint Korean teams would be allowed for the Jakarta 2018 Asian Games only in sports where extra competition spots would not need to be awarded.

    This has put Korean sport administrators in a tight spot, as athletes from each country would likely have to be cut to accommodate teams. 

    “Unless roster spots are added, some South Korean athletes who have been preparing for the Asian Games may suffer," Lee Kee-Heung, President of the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee, said to Yonhap after the meetings. “Even if we get to have joint Korean teams with expanded rosters, it may stir controversy that giving us extra athletes isn't fair.”

    A unified Korean team will compete at the 2018 East Asian Championships on June 10 in Mongolia. The team will compete in both men's and women's events, and discussions are continuing for a joint team at the 2018 World Championships, according to the International Judo Federation.

    North and South Korean government officials agreed upon details of a potential delegation, which included a cheering squad, arts troupe, North Korean politicians, and a taekwondo team.

    The joint Korean hockey team at the 2018 Olympics was driven by politicians recommending the team to the IOC ahead of PyeongChang. There the IOC gave a one time exception for the team to have an expanded roster while dictating that a small number of North Korean skaters must dress for each game. Ultimately the IOC approved a delegation of 22 North Korean athletes for PyeongChang, and pledged continued assistance for athletes under the Olympic Solidarity program after the Games.

    Thomas Bach even visited Pyongyang as part of the agreement and met with North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. Bach said at a press conference following the PyeongChang 2018 debrief in Bejing that Kim told him that he wants to send teams to the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Olympics, as well as the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympics, according to a report from AFP.

    "We are now ... working on the special program to allow North Korean athletes to prepare for the games and to qualify for the games,” Bach said.

    "With regard to 2022, it's too early to say how many athletes will qualify. This is why we are working on this with North Korea, already, from now on."

    Bach added that the IOC invited leaders from the Chinese, North Korean, South Korean, and Japanese National Olympic Committees for a meeting on June 22. The IOC also invited a table tennis team from each country as part of a demonstration event.

    Olympic Day festivities are expected to be held on June 23 worldwide.

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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