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  • Koreas Unite in Lausanne for Olympic Day


    (ATR) Athletes and sport officials from North and South Korea are in Lausanne to celebrate Olympic Day with a table tennis tournament.

    Thoms Bach, center, with athletes from the participating countries (IOC)
    The IOC invited the National Olympic Committees from both Koreas along with those of China and Japan. The four countries will play in a table tennis tournament to celebrate the founding of the IOC.

    Earlier this year during the Table Tennis Team World Championships the North and South Korean women’s teams chose to combine rather than face each other in the quarterfinals. The combined team won a bronze medal after falling in the semifinals to Japan.

    A paddle from signed by the athletes was donated to be displayed at the Olymipc Museum in Lausanne. 

    "Thank you IOC for paving the way through sport to the peace process on the Korean peninsula, the region and the world," read the dedication on the paddle.

    The initiative in Lausanne is a continuation of the close cooperation between North and South sport officials that began in the month before the 2018 Olympics. After North Korea pledged its attendance at PyeongChang 2018, the IOC worked to facilitate the delegation.

    IOC President Thomas Bach eventually traveled to North Korea after the Olympics where he met with Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un. At the meeting Kim agreed to send athletes to the Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022 Olympics.

    Bach reiterated that pledge to Korean media in Lausanne today. He added, according to Yonhap, that discussions in Lausanne would center around equipment for North Korean athletes and other related issues.

    Participating in the Olympic Day tournament for South Korea is IOC Athletes Commission member and table tennis Olympic medalist Ryu Seung-min. Ryu told Yonhap that he was “pleased to be taking part” in the tournament, which will combine athletes from different countries. Each match will be mixed doubles with players of different nationalities.

    “I'll do the best I can to help bring the four countries together through table tennis, and to promote the value of sports,” Ryu said.

    In PyeongChang the two Koreas marched together during the Opening Ceremony and combined to form a unified women’s ice hockey team. The Koreas continued the sporting cooperation by agreeing to join for a unified ceremonies team at the 2018 Asian Games.

    Further discussions are set to take place with the Olympic Council of Asia about the composition of joint teams in competition. Previously the OCA said it would allow joint teams, but would not make exceptions for qualification quotas or roster spots.

    Written by Aaron Bauer

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