Seoul (AFP) – The two Koreas on Monday discussed forming unified teams for the upcoming Asian Games in Indonesia to extend the burgeoning diplomacy on the peninsula that took off at 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”.
On the agenda for the meeting Monday are proposals for a joint march and unified teams for the Asian Games, said Jeon Choong-ryul, South Korea’s chief delegate.
The games will be held in Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2.
Officials will also discuss details of an inter-Korean basketball match, which was proposed by Kim at his summit with Moon.
“As witnessed at the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, everyone knows that sports triggered the reconciliation between the South and North,” Jeon said before departing for the meeting.
The two Koreas formed their first-ever unified Olympic team — a joint women’s ice hockey squad — for the 2018 Winter Games.
The idea for a joint team at Pyeongchang Olympics initially sparked backlash in the South, on the grounds that Seoul was depriving its own athletes of the chance to compete on the Olympic stage.
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 all their 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, leading to a landmark summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore last week.