Korea dismiss Moon call for united Pyeongchang team
Send a link to a friend
[June 26, 2017]
By Yuna Park
SEOUL (Reuters) - A leading North
Korean sports official believes it is too late to consider South
Korean President Moon Jae-in's proposal to form a unified team for
the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, saying that political
tension must be resolved first.
At the opening of the World Taekwondo Championships in Muju on
Saturday, Moon said he wanted the Koreas to compete as one team next
year and highlighted the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships as an
example of a previous merger.
However, North Korean International Olympic Committee (IOC) member
Chang Ung ruled out the idea of a North-South team, telling the
Dong-a Ilbo newspaper that it was an unrealistic aim in the present
"It took us 22 rounds of talks to set up that joint (table tennis)
team for the 1991 games. It took us five months," Chang, who is
leading the North Korea delegation at the Taekwondo event in a city
two hours south of Seoul, told the paper.
"That's the reality we face."
Chang also ruled out the possibility of using venues in the North to
co-host the Feb. 9-25 Winter Games and dismissed the notion that a
unified team would help improve ties by saying: "The Olympics should
not be used for a political aim."
"As an expert of the Olympics, it is a little late to be talking
about co-hosting. It's easy to talk about co-hosting, but it is
never easy to solve practical problems for that. It's the same for
forming a joint team for ice hockey," Chang added.
[to top of second column]
South Korean President Moon Jae-in shakes hands with Chang Ung,
North Korea's International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, during
an opening ceremony of 2017 WTF World Taekwondo Championships in
Muju, South Korea June 24, 2017. Picture taken on June 24, 2017. Kim
Joo-hyung/Yonhap via REUTERS
Moon, who was a senior official in the liberal former
South Korean government of Roh Moo-hyun in the 2000s, took office on
May 10, winning an election on a more moderate approach to North
Korea and a promise to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.
He believes engagement must be used as well as pressure to ease
tensions between the rival states and convince the North to abandon
its defiant nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
South Korea's sports officials said they remained receptive to the
idea of competing together, however.
"We are still open to possibilities about forming a joint team,"
said Chun Byong-keuk, director general of Sports Corporation of the
Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism.
South Korean Sports Minister Do Jong-hwan said last week that he
would hold talks with the IOC about forming a joint female ice
hockey team for the 2018 Olympics.
(Editing by John O'Brien)
[© 2017 Thomson Reuters. All
Copyright 2017 Reuters. All rights
reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten