Olympics

North, South Korea to bid for 2032 Summer Games

AFP-JIJI

North and South Korea will bid jointly for the 2032 Olympics, they announced Wednesday, in an ambitious plan built on hopes of deepening a diplomatic thaw catalyzed by this year’s Winter Games in the South.

The idea, which would require an unprecedented level of cooperation and mutual trust on the long-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.

The February games 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 — a move initially controversial in the South, with critics saying that Seoul was depriving its own citizens of a chance to play on the Olympic stage.

Kim sent his sister Kim Yo Jong to Pyeongchang as his personal envoy, and the two leaders 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 Asian Games in Indonesia, securing one gold, one silver and two bronze medals.

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