2018 Asian Games could have 7 joint Korean teams: Seoul official
2018 Asian Games in Indonesia could feature joint Korean teams in as many as seven disciplines. Governing bodies for basketball, judo, canoe, gymnastics, table tennis, rowing and soft tennis have expressed interestUpdated: Apr 30, 2018 09:46 IST
Agence France-Presse, Seoul
Seven South Korean sports associations are considering forming joint teams with North Korea for this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia, a Korean Olympic Committee official told AFP on Monday.
At their groundbreaking summit on Friday, the latest step in a rapidly moving diplomatic sequence, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s president Moon Jae-in agreed to show solidarity by “jointly participating in international sports events such as the 2018 Asian Games”.
The phrasing left open whether it was a reference to unified teams, or marching together at opening ceremonies, as they have done at several past Olympics, including this year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang in the South.
But a spokeswoman for the South’s national Olympic committee told AFP that the country’s governing bodies for “basketball, judo, canoe, gymnastics, table tennis, rowing and soft tennis have expressed interest”.
No details had been discussed yet, she added.
Seoul’s unification ministry declined to comment on the issue but said the two sides will soon hold a working-level meeting which may include discussions on joint teams at the Asian Games.
Some sports bodies are already pushing ahead, proposing their own plans for the Asian Games, which will take place in Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2.
The Korean Canoe Federation said Monday a joint team for the dragon boat race -- one of three canoe disciplines at the event -- will be a good idea since neither Korea has a national team for it.
“Even if we form a joint team, it won’t affect any existing athletes,” the group said in a statement.
The joint teams could hold open practice sessions on the Han river in Seoul as well as the Taedong river in Pyongyang, it added.
When a joint women’s ice hockey team was first mooted for the Winter Olympics it provoked a backlash in the South, on the grounds that Seoul was depriving its own athletes of the chance to compete on the Olympic stage for political purposes.
The rapprochement on the peninsula was triggered by the Games, to which the North’s Kim sent athletes, cheerleaders and his sister as an envoy.
Ultimately the sight of North and South Korean skaters wearing the same jersey and passing the puck to each other drew emotive responses from spectators and quickly became an Olympic favourite, despite the team being thrashed in all five of their matches.
Friday’s historic meeting saw Kim and Moon agree to pursue the complete denuclearisation of the peninsula and to improve inter-Korean relations.
Seoul’s defence ministry said Monday it will start removing propaganda loudspeakers along the border with the North on Tuesday.
First Published: Apr 30, 2018 09:46 IST