Judo is set to unite the Republic of Korea (ROK) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) under one flag as a unified team will make history by competing at the East Asian Championships in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia this weekend. This will be the first time athletes from the two countries unite under a same flag in a summer sport.
The decision made just few days before the much anticipated meeting between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un which will take place in Singapore.
The 11th East Asian Championships will take place at the Central Sports Palace on June 8-10 and over 200 judokas, officials and distinguished guests from 8 countries are expected to take part. HE Mr. Battulga Khaltmaa, President of Mongolia and of the Mongolian Judo Association, will participate for the Opening ceremony on June 9th, whereas the two Koreas will unite under the unified flag for the men’s and women’s team events on Sunday.
The Unified Korean team will compete alongside China, Chinese Taipei, Hong Kong, Japan and Mongolia and will use Arirang, a Korean folk song, as their anthem. Korea’s unified flag will adorn the judogi of their athletes.
IJF President Marius Vizer held a joint meeting with Mr PAK Hak Yong, DPRK Judo General Secretary and Mr CHO Yong Chul, Korean Judo Association Vice President – on the occasion of the Hohhot Grand Prix in May – to discuss a unified team being formed for the World Judo Championships 2018 in Baku, Azerbaijan, this September.
These talks paved the way for the two neighbours to agree to link up this weekend and negotiations for both sides to join up in Baku are still on course.
Reporting by Mark Pickering /ijf.org/; additional reporting by Bolor Bayar in Ulaanbaatar