S-N team eyed for 2018 Olympics
Contacts will be made soon, says PyeongChang organizer
By Kim Ji-soo, Jung Min-ho
The chief organizer of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics said Sunday that he intends to involve North Korea in the games as much as possible.
“We will try to have North Korean athletes train together with our athletes and form a unified team,” said Kim Jin-sun, who leads the organizing committee, during an interview.
He said that North Korea helped the city’s third Olympic bid, adding that contact will be made with Pyongyang to discuss Olympic cooperation, without revealing an exact timeline.
The 65-year-old former Gangwon Province governor, where the host city is located, said his plan was based on an inter-Korean agreement made when he visited the North in 2006.
The two sides also agreed to working-level talks on other measures such as selecting torchbearers, he said.
“That spirit of cooperation is still valid.”
The head of the organizing committee, also known by its acronym POCOG, aims to make the PyeongChang Games one of peace.
However, he ruled out the possibility of a joint hosting of the event.
PyeongChang failed in the first two attempts to host the Winter Olympics but won in Durban last year, defeating Munich in Germany, and Annecy in France.
Kim served as special ambassador in Korea’s third bid to bring home the games. During the first two attempts, he served as governor.
The symbolism of active North Korean participation in 2018 would mean much to the province that is divided along the demilitarized zone parting the two Koreas, Kim said.
A former career bureaucrat, Kim is a native of Donghae, Gangwon Province. When serving as governor from 1998 to 2000, he specifically focused on increasing exchanges between the two Koreas.
He also commented on the recent conflict with the local government and residents in Gangwon Province over POCOG’s plans to change the location of the opening and closing ceremonies.
“The change was made after thorough consideration. The modified plan is more beneficial than the previous one for them. Also, we cannot discuss every single Olympic matter with local residents,” Kim said.
“But we are open to improvements in communication. We also encourage the local governments to form organizations where local people can discuss the issues concerning the games.”
The organizing committee disclosed on July 4 that the ceremonies will take place at a practice ground called Gowon in Hoenggye, a small town within the county of PyeongChang.
It had originally said the ceremonies would be at the ski jumping stadium inside Alpensia, PyeongChang's key sporting complex just south of Hoenggye. Kim said the reason for the change of venue was inspectors from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pointed out some problems that may arise from holding them at the ski jumping site.
Asked whether he has ambitions to become a member of the International Olympic Committee, Kim firmly said no.
“My goal is to make the PyeongChang Games a success,” he said.
Korea currently has two IOC members ― Lee Kun-hee, chairman of Samsung Group and former taekwondo gold medallist Moon Dae-sung,.