Koreas co-hosting Asian Winter Games 'possible' says IOC member Chang
North and South Korea co-hosting the 2021 Asian Winter Games would be “possible,” according to Chang Ung, the North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee.
Chang was responding to a proposal for Gangwon Province, the South Korean province in which PyeongChang, host of the winter Olympic Games presently under way, is situated, to bid to co-host the 2021 Asian Winter Games with North Korea.
If such a bid did occur, North Korea’s Masikryong Ski Resort could be one of the games venues, Chang (pictured) said.
He told Yonhap News: “It is sufficiently possible... Since a smaller number of countries participates in the Asian Games, it would be easier than the Olympics.”
Chang also said that organisers of the PyeongChang games have achieved a “perfect score,” having provided an opportunity to display harmony between the two Koreas.
South and North Korean athletes marched together at the PyeongChang 2018 opening ceremony, while a combined women’s ice hockey team has been competing at the games, in moves that have been welcomed as a breakthrough in the often hostile relations between the two countries.
However, earlier this week, South Korea’s sports ministry appeared to play down any immediate possibility of a joint Asian Winter Games bid, saying that, while it “hopes to continue sports exchanges with North Korea after the Winter Games,” it had not yet discussed any bid for the 2021 games.
Meanwhile, sponsors at the PyeongChang games have treated the peace issue with caution for fear of getting dragged into an intractable dispute, according to a Reuters report which cited Iain Jamieson, Korea country manager for Visa, one of the top-tier TOP Olympics sponsors, as saying: “Don’t get me wrong, I thought when they marched out, it was a big statement and everyone cheered.
“There is a polarization within Korea about whether they are for it or against it. The unified hockey team is not polling well with the younger demographic. All the brands are probably trying to stay away from that.”A host for the 2021 Asian Winter Games is due to be selected at this year’s Asian Games in Jakarta-Palembang in August.