IOC considers request for unified Korean teams to enter qualification for Olympic Games Tokyo 2020

IOC IOC/Greg Martin
One year after the successful Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) today organised a working meeting to discuss further sports cooperation between the Republic of Korea (KOR) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (PRK).

During this tripartite meeting, the IOC and the two Korean delegations, composed of representatives of their respective National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and governments, discussed the format and pathway for the participation of several unified Korean teams, made up of athletes from both NOCs, at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. 

The parties agreed on the principles guiding such unified Korean teams by sport and discipline. It was decided that participation in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would be based on successful qualification in those sports and disciplines for which both NOCs wish to compete as a unified Korean team.

The IOC agreed to continue studying, in particular with the respective International Federations (IFs), the request of the NOCs of KOR and PRK for unified Korean teams to take part in qualification for the following events:

  1. Women’s basketball
  2. Women’s hockey
  3. Judo - mixed team event
  4. Rowing - women’s & men’s in the fours (4-), quadruple sculls (4x) and eights (8+) events.

These discussions will be based on the agreement that any unified Korean team will follow the established qualification system established for the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.

There are still ongoing talks between the NOCs of KOR and PRK and their governments on possible additional unified Korean teams in other sports. The IOC informed them that it will consider further requests if these are made in due time ahead of the Olympic qualification competitions.

The IOC insisted that the athletes in the unified Korean teams will be subject to the same anti-doping testing programme as all other athletes in advance of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020. In light of the recent decision of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) to declare the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Anti-Doping Committee non-compliant with the WADA Code, and in the interest of the continuous fight against doping, the IOC will explore the possibility with WADA and other parties of providing additional support to the NOC of PRK to strengthen the fight against doping. The IOC has been advised by the two Korean NOCs and WADA that there is already an agreement in place with the China Anti-Doping Agency to resolve this situation as soon as possible.

All the parties agreed to continue to build on the preliminary results of this working meeting, and to address all outstanding issues in close consultation.  

Any result will need the approval of the IOC Executive Board, which has its next meeting from 26 to 28 March 2019 in Lausanne.

The delegations of KOR and PRK made a presentation declaring their historic initiative to put forward a joint Korean candidature to host the Olympic Games 2032. Even though the candidature process for 2032 has not yet started, the IOC welcomes this initiative and is prepared to assist the two Koreas to further develop this project. In this regard, the IOC stands ready to place its expertise at their disposal, and would welcome a visit to the IOC by a joint working group to explore the possibilities.

The IOC expressed its sincere wish that the ongoing political talks produce the necessary progress on the Korean Peninsula for a successful candidature and organisation. Further discussions will continue in accordance with the candidature procedure open to all NOCs for hosting the Olympic Games 2032.

“The discussions at the working meeting today are one further step showing how sport can once more make a contribution to peace on the Korean Peninsula and the world,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “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. Therefore, we warmly welcome the historic initiative of the two Koreas to put forward a joint Korean candidature for the Olympic Games 2032.”

Do Jong-hwan, Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism of KOR, said: “South Korea greatly hopes to jointly host the Olympic Games 2032 with North Korea, and will work to successfully bid for the Games together. Moving forward from our successful collaboration for the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, we will continue to work closely with North Korea for a successful candidature to host the Games in Seoul and Pyongyang.”

Kim Il-guk, NOC President and Minister of Physical Culture and Sport of PRK, said: “The leaders of the two Koreas agreed that they intended to host the Olympic Games in 2032. 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.”

The following delegations took part in the working meeting:

  • A delegation from the IOC led by its President, Thomas Bach, who chaired the meeting.
  • A delegation from the NOC of the Republic of Korea led by NOC President Lee Kee-heung and the Minister of Culture, Sport and Tourism, Do Jong-hwan,
  • A delegation from the NOC of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea led by the NOC President and Minister of Physical Culture and Sport, Kim Il-guk.


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