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Is it a long shot to see the two Koreas co-host the 2032 Olympics?

Is it a long shot to see the two Koreas co-host the 2032 Olympics?

Posted February. 26, 2021 07:20,   

Updated February. 26, 2021 07:20


Brisbane will be the International Olympic Committee’s most preferred bidder for the 2032 Summer Olympic Games, according to the organization on Wednesday (local time). This translates into a slim chance that the two Koreas will jointly host the 2032 games in summer, which the South Korean government has promoted with vigor.

IOC President Thomas Bach said in a video press conference on Wednesday that the IOC’s Executive Committee gave a unanimous approval to the Future Host Commission’s recommendation for the selection of Brisbane. Accordingly, the Australian city will be granted a suite of exclusive rights in negotiations with the IOC on the hosting of the 2032 Games. The Future Host Commission recommends a hosting city to the Executive Committee after long years’ discussions with city authorities, making it unlikely to take its words back. Brisbane was highly commended for its preparedness to make sure that 80 percent of Olympic facilities are replaced with the existing sports facilities and its ample experience as a host of various international sports events.

Although the two Koreas clearly declared that they are eager to host the Olympics, uncertainties over whether they can do so made them a less attractive candidate. As the Olympic Games has become less popular across the world over time, the IOC has a tendency to select a hosting city, if it successfully meets requirements, long years earlier than before.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in agreed with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in the inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang in September 2018 to work toward the joint hosting of the 2032 Olympic Games. However, the fruitless talks between the United States and North Korea in Hanoi, Vietnam, in February 2019 held back inter-Korean discussions on the Olympic Games. Having said that, Seoul pushed forward with the joint hosting project by resolving a corresponding action plan in the cabinet in January last year, for example. And then, the news from the IOC disappointed Seoul on Wednesday.

“With Brisbane being the IOC’s non-binding preferred bidder, things have got tougher on the two Koreas’ journey to becoming a joint host,” said an official of the Ministry of Unification on Thursday. “However, not any final decision has been made yet. We will wait and see what folds during negotiations with the IOC. We are determined to use every tool at our disposal to honor the commitments agreed upon jointly by the two Koreas.”

Won-Hong Lee bluesky@donga.com