(LEAD) With Asian Games experience, Korean rowers aim to race together at Tokyo 2020
(ATTN: UPDATES with details in paras 3-4)
SEOUL, Feb. 15 (Yonhap) -- Following their Asian Games collaboration, rowers from South and North Korea will try to race together once again after agreeing to compete under one flag at the upcoming Summer Olympic Games.
During a tripartite meeting with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland, the Koreas agreed to send a unified team in rowing to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. They'll also organize unified teams in three other sports: women's basketball, women's hockey and judo.
In rowing, the Koreas will field joint teams in the men's and women's coxless four, quadruple sculls and coxed eight events.
Previously, South Korea reportedly wanted to form unified teams in disciplines that involve four or more rowers, while North Korea was looking for joint teams in lightweight events.
The Koreas first joined forces in rowing at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia. The rowers also trained together in the South Korean city of Chungju, North Chungcheong Province, for about two weeks before flying to Indonesia.
At the Asian Games, the Koreas competed as one team in the women's lightweight double sculls and the men's lightweight coxless four and eight. They qualified for the finals in all events but failed to grab a medal.
Having already raced together, the Koreas will now aim higher, but big hurdles await them already.
The two sides now need to prepare for the 2019 World Rowing Championships, where quota places for the Tokyo Olympics are up for grabs. The competition will be held in Ottensheim, Austria, from Aug. 25 to Sept. 1.
"We need to start training for the worlds at least in March in order to win Olympic quota spots," a Korean Rowing Association (KRA) official said. "Before that, we need to confirm the location and schedule for training."
The World Rowing Federation has yet to announce its stance on unified Korean rowing teams at Tokyo 2020. Before asking for help from the world governing body, KRA believes the Koreas earning Olympic quota places on their own will be the most important task.
"It's true that not only South Korea but also North Korea is behind the world-class level in rowing," a KRA official said. "We must earn Olympic quota places at the worlds."
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