POSTED: 5:00 a.m. HST, Jul 13, 2011
LAST UPDATED: 5:09 a.m. HST, Jul 13, 2011
SEOUL, South Korea >> A North Korean official has expressed hope that his country could co-host the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics with South Korea, a news report said Wednesday.
North Korean International Olympic Committee member Chang Ung made the comment after arriving in Tokyo for a regional Olympic committee meeting, Yonhap news agency said.
However, when Chang was pressed for details later in the day, he said it would be premature to discuss the matter.
And the South Korean presidential spokeswoman Sohn Jie-ae told reporters Wednesday that Seoul is not considering co-hosting.
“Our bid was not for a joint Winter Olympics with North Korea,” she said.
The IOC has yet to make any official comment.
Pyeongchang is in northeast South Korea near the demilitarized zone that separates the two nations. Its province was cut into North and South Korean sides after the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a truce.
The head of South Korea’s main opposition party said earlier this week that he favored allowing North Korea to co-host the 2018 Olympics. His comment came days after the ruling party agreed to push for a joint team of athletes from both Koreas at the Pyeongchang Olympics.
Yonhap also quoted Chang as saying military and political tensions between the Koreas should ease so they don’t impact the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang.
Animosity between the rival Koreas remains high after the North bombarded a South Korean island last year, killing four people.
The countries haven’t fielded a joint Olympic team or co-hosted a major international sporting event before. But their athletes marched together at the opening of the 2000 and 2004 Summer Olympics.