SEOUL – South Korea has picked its capital Seoul for its bid for the 2032 summer Olympics, which it aims to jointly host with North Korea.
The Koreas will officially inform the International Olympic Committee of their decision to bid at an event in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Friday.
North Korea is expected to announce its candidate city later this week – the likely choice is its capital Pyongyang – before or during the IOC meeting, Seoul officials told AFP.
The decision to pursue a joint bid – as well as to jointly participate in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games – was made following a series of inter-Korean talks last year, as cross-border reconciliation gathered pace.
In a meeting held by the country’s Olympic committee on Monday, Seoul edged out its rival, the southern port city of Busan.
Seoul mayor Park Won-soon said he would ensure the bid serves as an opportunity to “change the fate of the Korean peninsula”.
“If the 1988 Seoul Olympics was ‘reconciliation Olympics’ amid the cold war between East and West and the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics was a touchstone of peace, the 2032 Olympics will be promoted to become the last stop to establish the peace”.
The last time Seoul hosted the summer Olympics, in 1988, Pyongyang boycotted the Games.
But in recent months the Koreas have turned to sports diplomacy to ease tensions.
During the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics last year, North Korea sent leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, to express the reclusive regime’s interest in an inter-Korean summit.
The unified Korean women’s ice hockey team was also a symbol of unity in Pyeongchang, despite losing all their games and finishing last.
Kim Jong Un went on to meet with South Korean President Moon Jae-in three times in the wake of the Games and held a landmark summit with US President Donald Trump in Singapore in June.
However, the joint bid poses some difficulties. North Korea is subject to economic sanctions and these are unlikely to be lifted by the UN Security Council unless Pyongyang takes firmer steps toward denuclearisation.
Agence France-Presse (AFP)