Following joint ice hockey team, Koreas to team up in field hockey at Tokyo 2020
SEOUL, Feb. 15 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and North Korea made Olympic history last February when they formed a joint women's ice hockey team at the PyeongChang Winter Games.
And at the next Summer Olympics in 2020, the two will be united in women's field hockey.
During a tripartite meeting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, on Friday, the Koreas agreed to form a joint women's field hockey team at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games. They'll also organize unified teams in three other sports: judo, rowing and women's basketball.
The Koreas opened talks on an Olympic joint hockey team in November last year, during the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Congress in New Delhi. Korea Hockey Association (KHA) President Kang Dong-hoon met with North Korean officials to broach the subject. Talks on the joint team progressed further in the ensuing inter-Korean sports talks.
Women's field hockey at Tokyo 2020 will feature 14 nations. And the Koreas plan to put together their team during the Olympic qualifying stage.
There are two Olympic berths available at each of the three FIH Women's Hockey Series Finals in Ireland, Japan and Spain in June. South Korea has qualified for the event in Ireland from June 8 to 16, and will be up against the Czech Republic, France, Ireland, Malaysia, Scotland, Singapore and Ukraine. Only the top two from that group will qualify.
Four more spots are at stake during the 2019 Women's Hockey Pro League competition, which began in January and will wrap up in June. Finally, four additional spots will be distributed based on FIH world rankings as of Sept. 20 this year.
The South Korean team, coached by Lim Kye-sook, has been training since January at the Jincheon National Training Center in Jincheon, 90 kilometers south of Seoul. The KHA said it's trying to bring North Korean players to Jincheon as early as April.
South Korea is No. 11 on the FIH rankings, but North Korea, which hasn't competed internationally in recent years, isn't among 35 nations ranked by the sport's international governing body.
South Korea won silver medals at the 1988 and 1996 Olympics, and has collected five gold medals and three silver medals at its 10 Asian Games appearances, dating back to 1982.
"Our women's team should have little trouble qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics on its own," a KHA official said. "North Korean hockey officials have told us there are about four to five players with some talent."
Teams competing at Tokyo 2020 will each have 18 players. The KHA said it has asked international authorities for additional spots for three extra players on the unified Korean squad, though it will still play just 18 of those 21 players in games, like other nations.
The roster setup will likely resemble those with the women's ice hockey team at PyeongChang 2018 and the women's basketball team at the Asian Games in Jakarta last summer. In both cases, South Korean players far outnumbered North Koreans and generally played more significant roles.
At the PyeongChang Games, 23 South Korean players were joined by 12 North Korean players on the unified women's hockey team. While all other teams could only carry 23 players, the Koreas were granted extra roster spots to accommodate the arrival of North Koreans.
But the actual game roster of 22 remained unchanged, which left 13 players off the ice at every game. Under the terms set by the IOC, at least three North Korean players had to dress each game.
In Jakarta, the team of nine South Koreans and three North Koreans combined for the silver medal in women's basketball.
One North Korean player, Ro Suk-yong, was the unified team's starting center and one of its top scorers.
(LEAD) Grandson of ex-President Chun apologizes to victims of 1980 democracy rising
(2nd LD) N. Korea plans to send weapons, munitions to Russia in exchange for food: NSC
Top U.S. general cancels plan to visit S. Korea due to time restraints: his office
Japan's chip export curbs to have limited impact on S. Korea: industry ministry
(LEAD) Ruling party, gov't agree to tentatively postpone electricity, gas rate hikes
Five years after its full nuke armament claim, N. Korea's threat becomes real, further complicated
(News Focus) S. Korea grapples with calls for nuclear armament
Talk of 'normalizing' GSOMIA raises hope, skepticism around Seoul-Tokyo ties
S. Korea, U.S., Japan close ranks amid growing N.K. threats
N. Korea says month-old virus crisis under control, but skepticism lingers