International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Friday he welcomes the joint South Korean-North Korean bid to host the 2032 Summer Games.
Bach made the remark following his meeting with delegations from the two Koreas at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, earlier in the day.
The meeting mainly covered unified Korean teams at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The two sides agreed to field joint teams in women’s field hockey, women’s basketball, judo and rowing.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach speaks during the series of China Red Spring Festival at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Swizterland, Feb. 4.
Also during the meeting, the Koreas formally expressed to the IOC their intent to co-host the 2032 Olympics, five months after agreeing to work together for the joint bid.
No Olympic Games, summer or winter, have been staged by two or more countries together.
Bach said he saw an “impressive presentation” about the joint Korean effort to organize the 2032 Olympics, calling the effort a “historic initiative.”
“The IOC has very warmly welcomed this initiative because it reflects the mission of the Olympic Games and demonstrates the unifying power of the sport,” Bach said. “The mission of the IOC is to build bridges. Therefore, we appreciate this initiative very much. Even though the candidature procedure has not opened yet, we have offered our advice for the two Koreas in order to make all the necessary steps to finally have a technically sound candidature.”
Co-hosting the Olympics will be the culmination of inter-Korean sports cooperation. After years of chilly relations, the two have made significant progress on the sporting front in recent months.
Last February, they had a unified women’s ice hockey team at the PyeongChang Winter Games in South Korea, and their athletes marched together behind the Korean Unification Flag -- which bears an image of the Korean Peninsula in blue against a white background -- at the opening ceremony.
They also went on to field unified teams at multiple international table tennis tournaments. And at the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia, the Koreas sent joint teams to rowing, canoeing and women’s basketball. They grabbed a gold and two bronze medals in dragon boat racing, which is a canoeing discipline, and combined for the silver medal in women’s basketball.
In January this year, the joint Korean men’s handball team made its world championship debut in Germany. Bach was in attendance for the opening match between host Germany and Korea.
On Friday, Bach called on political leaders in both Koreas to do their part to ensure a successful bidding for the Olympics.
“We also made it very clear that the IOC and the sports movement alone can’t create all these conditions for the successful organization of the Olympic Games,” Bach said. “We’re hoping and wishing for further progress in the political talks between the two Koreas, so that these basic conditions for a successful candidature and successful organization can be created.” (Yonhap)