Olympics-Seoul to bid for 2036 Games without North Korea's Pyongyang: mayor

March 13, 2023 03:25 PM AEDT | By Reuters
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By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) - Seoul will pursue a bid for the 2036 Summer Games without reviving efforts to co-host an Olympics with the North Korean capital of Pyongyang, Seoul Mayor Oh Se-hoon told Reuters.

Amid hopes for better relations with the nuclear-armed North, Seoul sent a proposal for co-hosting the 2032 Olympics with Pyongyang to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2021, before Brisbane was named as host city.

"I think the strategy for 2032 was doomed to failure because of unpredictable inter-Korean relations," Oh said in an interview.

The 2032 joint bid had sought to build on the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics hosted in the South in 2018, during which athletes from both Koreas marched under a unified flag at the opening ceremony and fielded a combined women's ice hockey team.

IOC President Thomas Bach welcomed the joint bid at the time as a "historic initiative".

But relations have since soured again, and North Korea has tested a record number of ballistic missiles in the past year.

Pyongyang routinely trades threats with Seoul and its allies in Washington, where officials say North Korea may be preparing to resume nuclear weapons testing for the first time since 2017.

Oh said Seoul would remain flexible to the idea of holding a few events in the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) or Pyongyang if relations improved enough by that time.

An official with the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) said it had not received formal statements of intent from either Seoul or the southern city of Busan on a 2036 bid.

It would be up to the individual cities in consultation with the national government to decide whether to jointly host with Pyongyang, the official added, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss ongoing deliberations.

Among potential rivals for the Games, Qatar is expected to make a push to host the event following its successful staging of last year's soccer World Cup, while India, Germany and Egypt are also reported to be considering a bid.

Mexico has also thrown its hat into the ring for the 2036 Games.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Soo-hyang Choi and Josh Smith; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Peter Rutherford)


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