Seoul pushes IOC to consider joint 2032 Olympic Games bid with Pyongyang

Seoul’s city government announced Thursday that it has reached out to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to reconsider a joint 2032 Olympic bid proposal with North Korean capital Pyongyang.

The Olympic Winter Games open in PyeongChang, South Korea Friday (IOC Photo)

The South Korean capital and its counterpart to the North agreed to the collaboration in 2018 when diplomatic relations on the peninsula were warming.  President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un at the time vowed to cooperate on a bid through the Pyongyang Joint Declaration.

A Yonhap News Agency report said the bid documents outline a vision of “Beyond the Line, Toward the Future” with five key concepts: cost reduction and minimal environmental damage, inter-Korean connection and peace and a combination of cutting-edge technologies and Korean culture.

But IOC officials in February made the surprise announcement that Brisbane had been named the preferred candidate to host the 2032 event, giving the Australian city an exclusive path to the Games as long as it can collect the necessary domestic approvals.  With wide-ranging support, Brisbane officials are expected to sign the host contract as early as July.

The decision, made after weeks of secret meetings held four years earlier than the Games are typically awarded, caught rivals back on their heals.  Project organizers including from Germany, India and Unified Korea were left dismayed.

Seoul officials have urged the IOC to continue negotiations with other cities until Brisbane has signed on the dotted line, but under the IOC rules other bids for 2032 can only be considered if talks with the preferred candidate dissolve.

“The IOC selected Australia’s Brisbane as the preferred host for the 2032 Summer Olympics in a surprise move announced on Feb. 25,” Seoul city government said according to Yonhap.

“The South Korean government and the Seoul city immediately expressed regrets at the decision and held consultations with the IOC, leading to the presentation of the co-hosting proposal.”

The written proposal was sent to the IOC’s Future Host Commission led by Norwegian Kristin Kloster Aasen, the same IOC member who recommended that the Executive Board enter into exclusive final negotiations to sign Australia to host its third Olympic Games.

The new Commission was formed as the result of a set of 2019 site selection reforms that eliminated strict timelines and pushed the entire process behind closed doors and into the hands of the IOC Executive Board.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated since the original cooperation in 2018 and this week North Korea is said to have increased weapons testing, firing two missiles into the sea .  It is unclear if North Korea is still onboard with the joint Olympic bid.

A Seoul official told Reuters that the bid was a result of intra-agency meetings and that the Unification Ministry would reach out for further discussions with the North.

A Unified Korea team marched into the Olympic Stadium at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony in South Korea, and a blended team competed in the ice hockey tournament.  Gangwon Province, where PyeongChang is located, is set to host the Winter Youth Olympics in 2024 and the North has been offered the opportunity to stage some events.

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