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NE Asia sports ministers lay groundwork for successful Olympics

In their inaugural talks that wrapped up here Friday, the sports ministers of South Korea, China and Japan laid the groundwork for successful hosting of upcoming Olympic Games in the region.

After their two-day meeting in PyeongChang, host of the 2018 Winter Olympics located 180 kilometers east of Seoul, the three ministers -- Cho Yoon-sun of South Korea, Liu Peng of China and Hirokazu Matsuno of Japan -- produced the "PyeongChang Declaration."

It detailed the three countries' efforts to expand their sports exchange and cooperation, and in the bigger scheme of things, such efforts are ultimately designed to ensure the success of three Olympic Games in Northeast Asia.

PyeongChang 2018 will kick off an unprecedented cycle of there consecutive Olympic Games on the continent. Tokyo will follow with the 2020 Summer Olympics, and Beijing will stage the 2022 Winter Games.

The occasion is considered so historic that Thomas Bach, president of the International Olympic Committee, hailed "the time of Asia" in his congratulatory speech Thursday evening.

The significance of holding three straight Olympic Games wasn't lost on the sports ministers here.

"For the success of PyeongChang 2018, Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022, the three nations will share their know-how and undertake joint efforts to create excitement for the events," the declaration read.

Beyond sharing their expertise, the three nations also agreed to create an "Olympic Legacy" that can contribute to the sustainable development of the world.

"Through sports exchanges, South Korea, China and Japan will strengthen mutual understanding and trust, and will use that as a base for peaceful co-existence in Northeast Asia," the declaration read.

Also in connection with ensuring successful Olympics, the three nations will seek to become active players in anti-doping efforts. They will engage in personnel and technology exchanges to build the doping-free culture in the region and set an example for others to follow.

In her keynote speech at the start of Friday's meeting, Cho said she hoped the sports ministers' gathering will lead to something even greater than stronger cooperation in sports.

"South Korea, China and Japan are the oldest neighbors in the world, and we've all established brilliant and unique civilizations on common ideological and cultural foundation," she said. "In addition to the success of the Olympics in the region, I hope this sports ministers' meeting will offer a vision for the future that can bring about the co-prosperity of the three countries."

South Korea initiated the talks and the three have agreed to hold them on a regular basis. Japan will host the next meeting in 2018.

The sports ministry here said the three countries will continue to coordinate their efforts to execute plans laid out in the PyeongChang Declaration.

Kim Young-soo, director of sports cooperation bureau at the South Korean sports ministry, said the ministerial meeting will remain in place after the 2022 Beijing Olympics.

"The ministers discussed ways to keep exchanging ideas to parlay successful Olympics into co-prosperity in Northeast Asia," Kim said in a press briefing after the talks. "And sports ministers from the three nations will continue to meet after Beijing." (Yonhap)