[Writer's Choice] South-North Korean Joint Olympic Hockey Team Scrapped

Jay Yim, May 24, 2019, 4:16 p.m.


South Korea is scrapping their plan to have a joint women's field hockey with North korea at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, according to officials, after Pyongyang failed to cooperate.

These sporting joint projects triggered a rapid diplomatic thaw on and around the Korean peninsula last year, but is now coming to a halt with North Korea's ongoing nuclear arsenal deadlock.

The two Koreas created their first-ever joint Olympic team (joint women's ice hockey squad) for the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea. They became media sensations despite losing all five of their matches by a combined scoreline of 28-2.

The Koreas would then form several more joint teams for the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia and in February, they agreed to send the unified basketball, judo, field hockey and rowing teams to Tokyo.

However, just weeks later, the summit meeting between Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump fell apart with a disagreement over relief of sanctions and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

As a result, relations between North and South Korea was left in limbo because Pyongyang was not responding to the offers of talks or implementing previous agreements.

The International Olympic Committee made a stipulation that in team sports, any joint team entering the olympics in Tokyo, must be qualified as a single unit.

Therefore, a joint women's teams is needed to enter the IHF Women's Hockey Series Finale in Ireland from June 8 to June 16.

The deadline for submitting the squads was Thursday and since the North did not respond, the South made the decision to enter alone.

"It will just be the South Korean team, not a unified team," an official at the Korea Hockey Federation in Seoul said.

The sports minister of South Korea, Park Yang Woo, held out hope of a change of heart by North Korea.

"We have repeatedly sent our request but there has been no response. We will wait until the very last minute," he told reporters earlier this week.

He added, "If there is progress in talks for joint teams later, we will resume discussions but we have to prioritise the opinions of the athletes."

Regardless of the joint team's collapse, North and South Korea have made plans to have a joint bid to host the 2032 Summer Games, but South Korean officials said that there has not been any discussions on the project.

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