SEOUL: North and South Korea will discuss the details for their planned joint bid for the 2032 Olympics later this month to follow up on an ambitious agreement reached between their leaders in September.
The radical concept, which would require an unprecedented level of cooperation and mutual trust on the long-divided Korean peninsula, was included in a joint statement issued after a September summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong-un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in in Pyongyang.
“The South and North agreed to … discuss the issue of South-North joint hosting of the 2032 Summer Olympics around the end of the month at the joint liaison office,” read a joint statement issued after a high-level meeting Monday.
No further details were given.
Pyongyang boycotted the 1988 Seoul Summer Olympics after it demanded co-hosting rights and negotiations fell apart over how to share the events, but its decision to participate in this year’s Pyeongchang Winter Games triggered a dramatic diplomatic turnaround on the peninsula.
It came after tensions mounted the previous year, with the North carrying out multiple missile launches and its most powerful nuclear test to date, and Kim trading personal insults and threats of war with US President Donald Trump.
The February Games saw athletes from the two Koreas march together at the opening ceremony behind a unification flag showing an undivided peninsula, and the first unified Olympic team, in women’s ice hockey.
Kim sent his sister Kim Yo Jong to Pyeongchang as his personal envoy, and the two leaders have since met three times as part of an ongoing diplomatic rapprochement.
The two Koreas have continued their sports diplomacy, forming joint teams for the ITTF world table tennis championships and several events at the Asian Games in Indonesia as well as holding friendly basketball matches.
North Korea’s participation in hosting the Summer Games, which include thousands of athletes from around the world and an even larger number of spectators, would be a watershed event requiring a degree of openness and financial muscle now lacking in the isolated and impoverished country.
It would also force an extraordinary level of cooperation between two Cold War foes that have no formal avenues for regular contact and are still technically at war.