North and South Korea To Launch Joint Bid To Host 2032 Olympic Games

Leaders of North and South Korea have agreed to launch a joint bid to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games, it was announced at a summit between the two nations in Pyongyang Wednesday.

North Korea's May Day Stadium in Pyongyang was built in 1989 and has a capacity of 150,000, making it the biggest in the world (Wikipedia Photo)

North Korea’s May Day Stadium in Pyongyang was built in 1989 and has a capacity of 150,000, making it the biggest in the world (Wikipedia Photo)

South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made the declaration at a third summit between the two this year since the easing of tensions between the two at-war nations.

South Korean Sport Minister Do Jong-Hwan initiated the proposal last week during a meeting in Tokyo.

He said “I plan to make this proposal to the North for the settlement of peace.”

“Seoul and Pyongyang would co-host the Games.”

The fledgling sports partnership between the two nations on the Korean peninsula was precipitated by Kim’s 2018 New Year’s address when he agreed to send a delegation to the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in the South.  It was an ironic twist after threats from the North’s nuclear missile testing program in the previous months nearly led to the cancellation of the Games.

The nation marched into the Opening Ceremony in February under a single unified flag and fielded a joint Women’s Ice Hockey team.  Other North Korean athletes and a large cheerleading squad were also part of the North Korean delegation.

Earlier this month the North and South fielded three joint teams at the Asian Games in Jakarta.

The two nations also agreed, at the summit, to participate jointly at additional major sports events including the next Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

According to the Olympic Charter, joint bids between nations are not permitted for the Olympic Games – but a charter amendment could be possible and would be consistent with the organization’s objective of promoting peace.  Or, if the two sides could merge their national Olympic committees – they might technically qualify.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has been an outspoken supporter of the joint efforts by the two Korea’s in pursuit of improved relations.  In March Bach visited Pyongyang to meet with sport officials and athletes.

The city has sports facilities in place including the word’s biggest 150,000 seat May Day stadium that is capable of staging athletics and other large format sports.  A sports village in the city accommodates many other events including swimming and diving.

Swimming presentation for IOC President Thomas Bach as he visits the Swimming centre in the Sports village in Chongchun Street, Pyongyang (IOC Photo)

Swimming presentation for IOC President Thomas Bach as he visits the Swimming centre in the sports village in Chongchun Street, Pyongyang (IOC Photo)

Last year the IOC awarded the Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028 Games simultaneously as part of a tripartite deal after the two were the only entries remaining in the 2024 race.  That pushes the next available Games to the 2032 calendar – and the election for that won’t take place until 2025.

Still, cities are already lining up.

Indonesian officials announced this month that they’ll begin to prepare Jakarta for a 2032 bid after a successful Asian Games this year.

Earlier, Shanghai’s deputy director Luo Wenhua announced that the Chinese city could consider a 2032 bid while it sets a course to become a “globally famous” sport city.

Other interest in bidding for the 2032 Games has come from Queensland in Australia, India, Germany, Russia and Egypt.  The IOC indicated earlier this year that it has had discussions with at least one interested city and that the “discussion phase” of the cycle has begun.

Seoul previously hosted the Summer Games in 1988.  North Korea has never bid to host the Olympics.


About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.