The mayor of South Korea’s capital Seoul, Oh Se-hoon, has told media that his city will pursue a bid for the 2036 Olympic Games without attempting to involve North Korea in any way, as was once considered a possibility for the 2032 edition.
Oh has told Reuters that there will be no attempts to re-engage North Korea in terms of a joint bid for an Olympics, an option that had been explored from 2018 with the 2032 games in mind.
That event has now been allocated to Brisbane, Australia, and Oh's comments mean there will be no attempt to bring the two countries together in terms of hosting for 2036.
The joint submission proposed by the South for the games in nine years' time never came to fruition, with relations between the two nations having deteriorated significantly over the last two years. One contributory factor of this is the record number of ballistic missiles North Korea has tested in the last 12 months.
The proposal for a joint big had come on the back of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in 2018, held in that South Korean city, during which athletes from North and South Korea marched under the same flag at the opening ceremony, with a combined women’s ice hockey team fielded. Seoul and North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang would have hosted together.
However Oh has now said: “I think the strategy for 2032 was doomed to failure because of unpredictable inter-Korean relations.”
An official from the Korean Sport and Olympic Committee (KSOC) said it had not yet received statements of intent from either Seoul or Busan, another South Korean city, for 2036.
Reuters has quoted the same official – speaking anonymously – as saying it would be up to individual cities on their own to decide whether a joint bid alongside Pyongyang could be practical.
Oh did add that, if relationships between the nations improve over the next year or so, Seoul authorities would be open to hosting a small number of events in either the Demilitarised Zone between the two or even in Pyongyang.
At this stage, other nations likely to bid for 2036 Olympic hosting rights include Turkey, Qatar, India, Egypt, and Indonesia. Germany is also considering whether to get involved.
The reported Qatar interest stems from December when authorities in the Gulf state were rumored to be laying the groundwork for a 2036 Olympics bid following the country’s hosting of soccer’s FIFA World Cup.
The announcement of a forthcoming Indonesian bid, meanwhile, came in November and centers on the country’s future capital city of Nusantara.
The French capital of Paris will stage the event next year, with Los Angeles in the US to host in 2028 before the games go to Brisbane in 2032.
The Brisbane games are the first to have been allocated under the IOC’s new selection process for host nations and cities.
In October, the IOC said it was in preliminary discussions with 10 cities around the 2036 games.
Those hosting rights are likely to be allocated in 2026, the year after current International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach steps down.
At the time of the South Korean proposal to jointly host the 2032 Olympics with its northern neighbor, Bach said that a joint bid would be a “historic initiative.”
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