(ATR) North and South Korea have told the IOC they want to field unified teams in four sports at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The IOC on Friday agreed to work with the respective international federations and countries' sports leaders to pave the way for unified Korean teams to take part in qualification for: women’s basketball, women’s hockey, judo mixed team event, and rowing – women’s and men’s in the fours, quadruple sculls and eights events.
Any unified Korean team will follow the established qualification system for the 2020 Olympics. And talks are ongoing between the two nations "on possible additional unified Korean teams in other sports", the IOC confirmed.
Today’s agreement was struck in Lausanne meetings between the IOC and the two Korean delegations, which included their sports ministers and NOC chiefs.
The proposal comes a year after athletes from the two Koreas marched under a united flag at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics, and following the success of the unified women's ice hockey team at the Games.
In the wake of WADA this week declaring that North Korea’s anti-doping committee was non-compliant with its code, the IOC was at pains to stress that athletes in the unified Korean teams "will be subject to the same anti-doping testing program as all other athletes in advance of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020".
The IOC said it would explore the possibility with WADA and other parties of providing additional support to the North Korean NOC to strengthen the fight against doping. The China Anti-Doping Agency is already working to aid the country’s reinstatement.
The plan for unified Korean teams is subject to approval of the IOC Executive Board which meets March 26-28 in the Olympic capital.
At Friday's meeting with IOC president Thomas Bach and colleagues, both countries’ representatives also presented plans to begin considering a joint Korean bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics.
The IOC welcomed the initiative, saying it was "prepared to assist the two Koreas to further develop this project", adding that it hoped political talks to further the peace process on the Korean Peninsula "produce the necessary progress" for a successful Olympic candidature and organization.
Bach said Friday’s talks with the Korean delegations were "one further step showing how sport can once more make a contribution to peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world".
"We have a good foundation to build on and make further progress ahead of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. Sport will continue to build bridges and demonstrate the unifying power of the Olympic Games," he said. "Therefore, we warmly welcome the historic initiative of the two Koreas to put forward a joint Korean candidature for the Olympic Games 2032."
South Korea’s sports minister Do Jong-hwan said his country would continue to "work closely" with North Korea on the Olympic bid effort following the countries’ successful collaboration for PyeongChang 2018.
His North Korean counterpart Kim Il-guk said: "I am very moved and excited by the prospect of bidding together with South Korea. We agree with the concepts put forward by South Korea, and ask for the support of President Bach and the IOC to jointly host the Olympic Games in Seoul and Pyongyang."
Reported by Mark Bisson
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