Unifying Korean teams for Asian Games

DPR and South Korea flags

The Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) will meet representatives from the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) of Korea and DPR Korea in Jakarta on June 28 to discuss their possible joint participation in the Asian Games.

The two Koreas have already agreed to march together in the Opening Ceremony on Aug 18 behind the Korean Unification Flag, and the discussions will now focus on the possibility of unified Korean teams in certain sports.

The meeting on Thursday follows discussions between OCA President, Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, with the two NOCs in Lausanne, Switzerland, on June 23.

OCA will be represented by its director of International and NOC Relations, Vinod Kumar Tiwari.

“OCA is looking forward to meeting with the representatives of the NOCs of Korea and DPR Korea and discussing the next step of this joint cooperation,” said Vinod.

“It is exciting times in the Korean Peninsula and sports play a major role in bringing the two Koreas together in an environment of peace and understanding.”

“We hope that this cooperation will grow stronger in the build-up to the 18th Asian Games and lead to a truly memorable and historic event,” he added.

The Games will be held in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia from Aug 18 to Sept 2 featuring some 10,000 athletes from 45 member nations. A total of 40 sports and 67 disciplines will be contested.

This will be the 11th time the two Koreas have marched together in an opening ceremony parade of a multi-sport games.

The first was at the Sydney Olympics in 2000 and the most recent at the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, Korea, in February.

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics was ground-breaking, however, because the two Koreas played as a unified team in the women’s ice hockey competition. This was the first time they had competed together in a multi-sport event, and OCA is now preparing for joint teams in certain sports in Indonesia.

“The South Koreans have an idea of how many sports could feature a joint team, and we need to discuss this with North Korea,” added Vinod.

“We hope to decide everything on Thursday because there is not a lot of time left.”

OCA supported the joint participation but insisted no additional places would be allowed in the case of unified Korean teams.

The delegation from the Korea Sport and Olympic Committee from Seoul comprise its secretary-general Jeon Choong Ryul, director-general Park Chul Keun and manager Kim Won Pung.

DPR Korea Olympic Committee will be represented by vice president Won Kil U, executive secretary O Chol Min and member Han Sang Chul.