BSP-21 Koreas to form joint teams at Asian Games

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ASIAD-2018-KOR-PRK-SKOREA-NKOREA-DIPLOMACY

Koreas to form joint teams at Asian Games

SEOUL, June 18, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – North and South Korea agreed Monday to
form unified teams for some sports at the upcoming Asian Games — a move
which highlights the rapprochement on the peninsula that begin with the
Winter Olympics.

At their historic summit in April, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and
South Korean President Moon Jae-in had agreed to joint participation in
“international sports events such as the 2018 Asian Games”.

Officials from the two Koreas met at the border truce village of Panmunjom
on Monday and reached several agreements aimed at strengthening sporting
ties.

“The South and the North agreed to march together at the opening and
closing ceremonies of the 2018 Asian Games… and to form joint teams for
certain sports,” said a joint Seoul-Pyongyang statement released by the
South’s sports ministry.

The games will be held in the Indonesian capital Jakarta and in Palembang
from August 18 to September 2.

The athletes from the Koreas will march under a neutral Korean peninsula
flag and under the “Korea” name, the statement said.

They will also hold a friendly basketball match — proposed by Kim, a fan
of the sport, at his summit with Moon — in Pyongyang on July 4 and another
in Seoul in the autumn.

“The South and the North will continue to form unified teams for other
international sporting events… while holding joint training to strengthen
inter-Korea cooperation and exchanges,” said the statement.

The two Koreas formed their first-ever unified Olympic team — a joint
women’s ice hockey squad — for February’s games in the South Korean resort
of Pyeongchang.

The idea for a joint team initially sparked a backlash in the South on the
grounds that Seoul was depriving its own athletes of the chance to compete.

Ultimately, the sight of North and South Korean players wearing the same
jerseys drew emotive responses from spectators and the squad quickly became
an Olympic favourite despite being thrashed in all its matches.

The rapprochement on the Korean peninsula was triggered earlier this year
when Kim decided to send athletes, cheerleaders and his sister as an envoy to
the Pyeongchang Games.

Diplomatic efforts have gathered pace since then, leading to a landmark
summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore last week.

BSS/AFP/ARS/1836 hrs