South Korea and North Korea will form a joint judo team to compete in an upcoming East Asian competition, Seoul's judo governing body said Thursday.
The Korea Judo Association said the two sides agreed to field a unified team at the 11th East Asian Judo Championships, although details need to be further discussed. The East Asian Judo Championships will be held in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, from Saturday to Sunday, featuring eight nations, including Japan and China.
The KJA said the South will send college judokas selected by the Korea University Judo Federation to the East Asian Judo Championships.
In this file photo taken on Sept. 22, 2014, South Korea`s Jeong Gyeong-mi (right) shows her gold medal after beating North Korea`s Sol Kyong in the women`s under-78-kilogram judo event at the Asian Games in Incheon. (Yonhap)
"Our team departed for Mongolia today," the KJA said. "Once they arrive, we'll talk with North Koreans and finish discussions on the joint team and will compete in the tournament."
The KJA said Mongolian organizers and officials from East Asian judo body first proposed idea of forming a joint Korean team in this year's competition. South Korea has in the past sent college judokas to the East Asian Judo Championships, giving opportunities to prospects and promising athletes. A KJA official said that this year it was relatively easy to form a joint team since the nation's top judokas are not on the team after long trials.
"We have yet to finalize how we should operate this unified team," the KJA official said. "We'll first join hands with North Koreans in the team event, but we can also compete together in individual events as Team Korea."
Meanwhile, the International Judo Federation said the two Koreas will compete under the same flag in team events -- both men and women -- on Sunday. It added that the Koreas will use Arirang, a popular Korean folk song, as their anthem and will use the unified Korean flag.
This year, South Korea and North Korea competed together in women's ice hockey at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics. Both sides are also set to discuss forming a joint team for the Asian Games in Indonesia this summer. (Yonhap)