South and North Korea's artistic gymnastics officials plan to meet at the upcoming world championships to discuss fielding a joint team at the 2020 Summer Olympic Games, Seoul's gymnastics body said Thursday.
The Korea Gymnastics Association said its officials will meet North Koreans at the 2018 Artistic Gymnastics World Championships to talk about the unified Korean gymnastics team at the Tokyo Olympics. The 48th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships will be held in Doha from Oct. 25 to Nov. 3.
The latest plan follows last week's inter-Korean summit in Pyongyang, where South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed that the two sides will cooperate with one another to bring the 35th Summer Games to the Korean Peninsula and will work on forming more unified teams at the 2020 Olympics and other international competitions.
The KGA originally planned to invite North Koreans to its 3rd Korea Cup international gymnastics competition and talk in detail about the joint gymnastics team at the Olympics. But since the competition was scheduled a week after the worlds, top-class gymnasts and North Koreans were reportedly reluctant to participate, and the KGA recently decided to postpone the competition to next year.
South and North Korean gymnastics officials had already met each other at the 2018 Asian Games in Indonesia this summer. Then, the two sides focused on the North's participation in the Korea Cup in the South.
The International Gymnastics Federation is also reportedly willing to give a hand to boost inter-Korean exchanges in gymnastics. FIG President Morinari Watanabe recently visited Pyongyang and talked with North Koreans.
"A FIG executive meeting will be held in Pyongyang next January," a KGA official said. "North Korea's participation in the Korea Cup and their supporting plans could be discussed."
Local sports pundits said Koreans' performance at the worlds and the Korea Cup could give a clue to how the joint team should be formed.
South Korean gymnasts have been strong in floor and vault events. At the 2018 Asian Games, Kim Han-sol won gold in the men's floor, and Yeo Seo-jeong topped the women's vault.
North Korea is thought to have top-class gymnasts in the men's vault and pommel horse, as well as in the women's vault and parallel bars. (Yonhap)