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(LEAD) S. Korean sports minister seeks support from Japan, China for unified Korean teams

All Headlines 14:33 September 13, 2018

(ATTN: CHANGES headline, lead, dateline; ADDS details, photo)

TOKYO, Sept. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korean Sports Minister Do Jong-whan said Thursday he has asked support from Japan and China for unified Korean teams at future Olympic Games in the two neighboring countries.

Do made the remark following the end of the trilateral sports ministers talks in Tokyo with Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Japanese minister of sports, and Gao Zhidan, deputy director of the General Administration of Sport of China.

Japan will host the 2020 Summer Olympics and Beijing will stage the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The Koreas assembled a unified team in women's hockey and also had a joint march during the opening ceremony at the PyeongChang Winter Games in the South in February this year. It was the first joint Korean team in Olympic history, winter or summer. The momentum carried over to the Asian Games in Indonesia, where the Koreas competed as one in canoeing, rowing and women's basketball, and grabbed four medals.

From left: Gao Zhidan, deputy director of the General Administration of Sport of China; Yoshimasa Hayashi, Japanese minister of sports; and Do Jong-whan, South Korean sports minister, hold hands after their trilateral meeting in Tokyo on Sept. 13, 2018. (Yonhap)

"I told China and Japan that we'd like to have more unified Korean teams at the Tokyo and Beijing Olympic Games," Do told reporters at New Otani Hotel in the Japanese capital. "I asked for their support. And I also told them about possibly having South Korea, North Korea, Japan and China co-hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2030 or 2034.

"Thanks to the joint march of the South Korean and North Korean athletes and the participation of the unified women's hockey team, we were able to make the PyeongChang Olympics a Peace Olympics," Do continued. "In light of the Olympics, the Koreas halted military confrontations and began a peaceful exchange. Hopes for peace in Northeast Asia are higher than ever."

On Wednesday, Do had told South Korean correspondents that he planned to propose co-hosting of the 2032 Summer Olympics with North Korea.

The three ministers opened their two-day meeting with a series of bilateral meetings.

Then the trilateral meeting followed on Thursday and they adopted a joint declaration called "Tokyo Action Plan," which aims to carry out agreements in "Pyeongchang Declaration," signed in their inaugural meeting in 2016 in PyeongChang. It pledges to further develop mutual trust and understanding through sports exchanges and to promote peace in Northeast Asia using sports.

The trilateral sports ministers meeting was designed to ensure cooperation and exchanges among the three nations that are also the hosts of three consecutive Olympics in Northeast Asia.

The three nations agreed to boost personnel exchanges at various levels, from women to disabled athletes, and to develop the winter sports area.

South Korea promised to pass on its know-how and technology used at the PyeongChang Olympics to the organizers of Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022. The country also requested that Japanese and Chinese organizers use their experienced workforce and competition venues.

The three nations, all Asian representative members for the World Anti-Doping Agency, also agreed to share education programs and other work regarding doping.

The three nations agreed that their next sports ministers meeting will be held in China in 2020. Until then, they will have an annual working-level meeting to check whether the "Tokyo Action Plan" is being properly carried out.


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