Yemisi Adesuyi, Lagos
During talks between the International Olympic Committee (IOC) President, Thomas Bach, and the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, and later with the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, both leaders asked the IOC to continue to support the peace process with actions in sport. President Bach committed to this, and has invited delegations from North and South Korea – and also from China and Japan, who are the next Olympic hosts and neighbouring countries.
As well as officials from the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), top-level athletes from the four countries will take part in a friendly mixed table tennis exhibition in celebration of sport’s unique ability to build bridges and cultivate sportsmanship, which can translate into all areas of life.
Speaking about the announcement, IOC President Thomas Bach said: “This meeting is another step by Olympic sport to promote dialogue on and around the Korean peninsula. The joint march at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 showed the world the role that the Olympic Movement can play in opening the door to peace. Sport must continue to build bridges and show what it can do to bring people together. Japan and China will be the next hosts of the Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games, and these mixed teams including athletes from North and South Korea, Japan and China, and the exhibition match, give us a glimpse of how sport can unite and make a contribution to changing the world through sport.”
During a recent visit to North Korea by the IOC President, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un fully committed to the participation of athletes from his country in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 and the next editions of the Youth Olympic Games, in Buenos Aires this year and Lausanne in 2020. The IOC is already working on a special programme to allow North Korean athletes to prepare and qualify for the upcoming Olympic Games.
The IOC will be able to discuss further progress toward this participation with all the partners concerned. The talks will take place in the Olympic Capital, where the Lausanne declaration was signed on 20 January this year. That agreement made possible the participation of athletes from North Korea at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 and the joint march at the Opening Ceremony.
Yemisi Adesuyi, Lagos