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The Olympic Games: An Architect of Peace for the Korean Peninsula?

At the beginning of the year, Sports Shorts covered the developments between North Korea and South Korea as the countries negotiated North Korea’s participation in the PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

The 2018 Winter Olympics was a success, once again proving that sport can be deployed as an instrument of diplomacy.

To summarise:

  • The athletes from North and South Korea marched together under the Korean unification flag during the opening ceremony;

  • North Korea sent a high-level delegation to attend the games including, the sister of Kim Jong-Un, Kim Yo-jong who shook hands with President Moon at the start of the games;

  • The delegation invited President Moon to visit North Korea;

  • The countries submitted a combined team to compete in the women’s ice hockey competition.

This is a testament to the spirit of the Olympic Games and, more generally, the role that sport can play in advancing harmony and peace.

More recently, it has been announced that the two countries will pursue a joint bid to host the Olympic Games in 2032. South Korea’s sports minister, Do Jong-hwan, spoke about the joint proposal:

it’s a proposal of hosting the events in Seoul and Pyeongyang. The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics showed the Olympic values very well. I hope peace in Northeast Asia can continue through sports”.

President Moon visited Pyeongyang in North Korea for a summit meeting where the countries agreed terms for the bid proposal. Crucially, North Korea committed to an era of “no war”, stating that it would close key missile test facilities in the presence of “international experts” who can verify the process.

This marks an unprecedented development in peace talks, which can breathe new life into the Korean peninsula.

Until 2032 arrives, the countries have agreed to “participate jointly” at international competitions including the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and develop rail and road links between the two countries. The countries are likely to face competition for its bid from Indonesia, India, Australia and China who have all expressed interest in hosting the Olympics in 2032.

© Copyright 2019 Squire Patton Boggs (US) LLP

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