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21/12/2018 - 11:41

Koreas to meet IOC in February on joint Olympic bid

The two Koreas on Friday agreed to hold talks with the International Olympic Committee on their joint bid for the 2032 Summer Games in February, Seoul said, as a rapid diplomatic thaw takes hold on the peninsula.

North and South Korean officials will meet with the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland on February 15 to discuss the prospects of co-hosting the 2032 Olympics, according to a joint statement following a cross-border meeting on Friday.

Making a joint bid for the 2032 Games was part of a broader agreement made between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in during their third summit in Pyongyang in September.

If it materialises, it will mark the first time for the Olympics, summer or winter, to be shared by two countries.

The two sides also agreed to form unified teams at the Tokyo Summer Paralympics in 2020, in addition to their earlier deal to jointly compete at the Olympics in the same year.

They have yet to determine which Olympic sport will have North and South Koreans on the same team, but the South’s chief delegate said a decision will be reached in the next few weeks.

“We agreed to narrow down the sports to those that will see a synergy effect under cooperation between the South and North,” vice sports minister Roh Tae-kang said after the meeting, according to pool reports.

The two Koreas technically remain at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty with military clashes often erupting along the frontier.

But ties improved markedly after Pyongyang sent athletes and top delegates — including leader Kim’s younger sister — to the 2018 Winter Games held in the South in February, for which the two rivals also formed a joint women’s ice hockey team.

Kim has made a series of reconciliatory gestures since then, including a landmark summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June and three summits with Moon — a dove who advocates dialogue with the North.

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