Seoul to discuss joint Korean teams with Asian Olympic chief

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Seoul, May 4 (IANS) The head of South Korea’s top sports body on Friday said he will soon meet with the Asian Olympic chief over joint Korean teams at an upcoming continental multi-sport competition.

Lee Kee-heung, president of the Korean Sport & Olympic Committee (KSOC), said he will sit down with Sheikh Ahmad Al Fahad Al Sabah, president of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), in Lausanne, Switzerland, on May 13, reports Yonhap news agency.

The topics for discussion will include organising a joint Korean march at the opening ceremony of the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and assembling unified Korean teams in multiple sports at the quadrennial competition.

The Asian Games will run from August 18 to September 2 in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.

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The Koreas have already agreed to push for a joint march at the opening ceremony. And talks for combined teams picked up speed following the inter-Korean summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un last week.

“I don’t foresee problems with a joint march, but having unified teams will not be so easy,” Lee said.

“In sports such as soft tennis and judo, we’ve already selected athletes for the Asian Games. Unless the Asian federations of these sports agree to expand entries, bringing the two Koreas together will be difficult to do.”

The South Korean sports ministry recently did a preliminary survey of 40 national sports federations to gauge their interest in joint teams at the Asian Games. Seven organisations — table tennis, basketball, judo, gymnastics, soft tennis, canoeing and rowing — expressed interest.

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The Koreas have never had a joint team at the Asian Games, winter or summer. In 1991, they fielded unified teams at the World Table Tennis Championships and the FIFA World Youth Championship. At the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February this year, the Koreas put together a joint women’s hockey team. A joint team was also put at the ongoing World Team Table Tennis Championships in Sweden.

–IANS

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