Thu, Jul 14, 2011 - Page 19 News List

Official says North Korea wants to co-host Games

Reuters, SEOUL

A North Korean Olympic official said yesterday the isolated state would like to co-host the 2018 Winter Olympics with its rival in the south, South Korean media reported.

Jang Ung, a North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told Yonhap news agency in Tokyo it was “positive” for Asia to host only its third Winter Games.

When asked about the possibility of sharing some events with South Korea’s Alpine town of Pyeongchang, Jang said: “I hope so.”

“The political and military situations between the Koreas aren’t good and they have to be improved,” said Jang, who is in Tokyo to attend the general assembly of the Olympic Council of Asia. “Otherwise, they could influence the Olympics.”

Pyeongchang, about three hours drive east of Seoul, won the right to host the Games last week, succeeding in its third attempt to bring the Winter Games to South Korea for the first time.

The two Koreas are still technically at war having only signed a truce to end the 1950 to 1953 Korean War.

On Monday, the South’s main opposition party said it would look at how the two Koreas could co-host the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, hoping to use the Games to improve relations between the rival states.

However, South Korea’s Olympic Committee president played down the prospects of a combined effort, telling the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper: “The Olympics cannot be used politically. We won the bid with difficulty.”

Tensions have risen on the peninsula since conservative Lee Myung-bak became South Korean president in 2008, ending a decade of Seoul’s “Sunshine Policy” of engagement with the North.

Relations hit their lowest level in years last year, with the killing of 50 South Koreans in two separate attacks. The North denies it was behind one of the attacks and said it was provoked into the second.

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