Koreas appear out of running for 2032 Olympics following IOC decision

By Yoo Jee-ho

SEOUL, Feb. 25 (Yonhap) — A potential joint bid by South Korea and North Korea to co-host the 2032 Summer Olympics has apparently collapsed before it took off in earnest, following a decision by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to pick an Australian city as its preferred candidate.

After a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Wednesday (local time), the IOC’s Executive Board announced Brisbane will be its partner for “a targeted dialogue” on staging the 2032 Summer Olympics.

The right to host the competition is now Brisbane’s to lose, with a handful of other potential candidates left on the outside looking in before developing concrete plans.

In this file photo from Feb. 9, 2018, delegations from South Korea and North Korea march together into PyeongChang Olympic Stadium during the opening ceremony of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games in Pyeongchang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul. (Yonhap)

Seoul and Pyongyang, the capital cities of South Korea and North Korea, first declared their intention to work together to co-host the 2032 Olympics in September 2018. South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un made that announcement in a joint accord following their summit talks in Pyongyang.

In February 2019, representatives from the two Koreas traveled to Lausanne to formally express their interest to IOC President Thomas Bach, who said he welcomed the joint Korean bid and called it a “historic initiative.”

There had been little real progress in the intervening years amid the usual ebbs and flows in the inter-Korean relations, although South Korean Olympic officials have touted the case for a joint bid at every chance they had.

When South Korea was named the host of the 2024 Winter Youth Olympics last year, Seoul officials said they would try to bring North Korea on board as a co-host, with an eye on laying the groundwork for the joint bid for the 2032 Olympics. North Korea hasn’t responded to that overture.

No Olympic Games, winter or summer, have been co-hosted by two countries.

In this file photo from Feb. 15, 2019, International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach (2nd from R) speaks to reporters following a meeting with sports delegations from South Korea and North Korea at the IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Standing with Bach are Lee Kee-heung (L), president of the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee; Do Jong-hwan (2nd from L), South Korean sports minister; and Kim Il-guk, North Korean sports minister. (Yonhap)

Co-hosting the Olympics would have been the culmination of inter-Korean sports cooperation. After years of chilly relations, the two Koreas made significant progress on the sporting front in 2018, which included assembling a joint women’s hockey team at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in South Korea and winning multiple medals under one Korean flag at the Asian Games in Indonesia.

In the past, the IOC named Olympic host cities seven years in advance, following a two-year bidding race that often proved expensive for candidate cities. Under a reformed procedure designed to ensure more transparency and efficiency, the IOC established the Future Host Commission, which screens potential host cities and makes a recommendation to the Executive Board for a preferred candidate.

The IOC then works with the prospective host to develop its chances of holding a successful Olympic Games and then bring the bid forward for an up-or-down vote by IOC members.

In addition to the Koreas, India, Indonesia, Qatar, Germany and China had also expressed interest in the 2032 Olympics, the next available Summer Games.

Paris will host the 2024 event, and Los Angeles is the site of the 2028 Olympics.

In this file photo from Aug. 26, 2018, members of the unified Korean women's dragon boat racing team stand on the podium during the medal ceremony after winning gold in the women's 500-meter race at the 18th Asian Games in Palembang, Indonesia. (Yonhap)