Sunday, July 2, 2017

Sports diplomacy: co-hosting of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics?

Is it possible that North and South Korea could come to an agreement to co-host the 2018 Winter Olympics?  Stranger things have happened.  Three decades ago, South Korea and the IOC held serious negotiations with North Korea about arrangements for the north to participate in the highly successful Seoul Olympics, but fell short of an agreement.  For a more detailed treatment, see my book with Park Heung Soo, Global Television and the Politics of the Seoul Olympics.
I served as an American Peace Corps Volunteer in Gangwon Province, the only divided province in South Korea.  When the 2018 Winter Olympics were awarded to PyeongChang in Gangwon Province, one of the first questions that arose in my mind was how the two Korea's might use this event for diplomatic purposes.   I've posted a number of times on this topic.  However, those posts were published before the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye and the election earlier this year of President Moon Jae In.   President Moon has already met with North Korea's IOC member and proposed that the two Koreas field a unified team for the PyeongChang Olympics. (see the New York Times report here) (click on image for a full size version) South Korea's sports minister has suggested that the PyeongChang Winter Olympics could be the "Peace Olympics" if North Korea were to participate. (see The Telegraph article here)
Could sports diplomacy play a role in resolving the tensions on the Korean peninsula?   I think it is definitely a possibility, and one that should not be ruled out.  See this 2013 post published when I learned that North Korea was building a "world class" ski resort in the northern part of Gangwon Province.

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