North Korea To Join Tokyo’s Olympic Games


On 30th March, the International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach was reported to have met up with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang. According to the Associated Press, following a 30-minute formal meeting, Bach and Kim had another 45 minutes of casual discussions while watching a soccer match Friday afternoon at Pyongyang’s May Day Stadium. Bach happily announced that North Korea is committed to participating in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics and the Beijing Winter Games in 2022, along with the respective youth Olympic Games. In a report by the North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, it was published that Bach expressed his “heartfelt thanks” to Kim over the North’s participation in the PyeongChang Games that made the event “symbolic of peace”.

Japanese Foreign Minister, Taro Kono, welcomed North Korea’s expressed intent to join the Tokyo Olympics, insisting that the move “should be welcomed” so long as the North abides by international rules, including those of the International Olympic Committee. In conjunction to Bach’s meeting, he claimed, “We had a very fruitful meeting where it became clear that the supreme leader has a clear vision of the role that sport can play in a society with regard to education, with regard to health.”

Meanwhile, Bach also expressed his optimism for the Koreas regarding their progress to a peaceful future. Bach’s sentiments were drawn from his prior experience competing in the Olympics for West Germany before Germany’s unification. “It is the mission of the International Olympic Committee always to build bridges, and by building these bridges through sport we can also make a contribution to the ongoing political talks,” he declared, adding that he hopes the talks will lead “in the Olympic spirit to a peaceful future for the Korean Peninsula.”

Both the North and South hailed the PyeongChang Games as a significant step toward easing tensions in the Korean Peninsula, which reached dangerously high levels last year as the North stepped up its missile tests and detonated its largest nuclear device to date. At the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Games, athletes of the two Koreas marched under a unified flag. The two Koreas also formed a unified women’s ice hockey team.

Bach’s meeting with Kim has raised the public’s hopes for the North Korean leader to be willing to discuss his nuclear weapons program and other measures to reduce the threat of war, possibly in exchange for security guarantees and an easing of the international sanctions that have severely impaired the already struggling North Korean economy. However, Kim’s talks with Bach appear to have focused mostly on sports.

Since the Olympics, the North has been enthusiastically pushing forward with their diplomatic moves. One of Kim’s plans for diplomacy included having a summit in Beijing with Chinese President Xi Jinping a few days before his meeting with Bach. It is also reported that Kim has scheduled a meeting in April with Moon Jae-In, the South Korean President, and another with U.S President Donald Trump by May. North Korea’s change in their diplomatic approach is an encouraging move – one which has attracted the support of other countries. Furthermore, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has also been exploring the possibility of meeting with Kim for a round of discussion.

The unification effort in the PyeongChang Games and the fruitful outcome from Kim’s discussion with Bach is both significant and encouraging, as the mission of the International Olympic Committee is met with matching efforts from North Korea, and may be a sign that peace will be achievable.

Cherie Gan

Cherie Gan

Gan Cherie is currently a third year law student at the University of Tasmania. Through the OWP, she aims to assist advocates in finding peaceful alternatives to combative situations of today.
Cherie Gan

About Cherie Gan

Gan Cherie is currently a third year law student at the University of Tasmania. Through the OWP, she aims to assist advocates in finding peaceful alternatives to combative situations of today.