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Koreas to discuss unified 2020 Olympic gymnastics team, report says

Pyeongchang Koreas Tensions

FILE - In this Aug 7, 2016 file photo, South Korean gymnast Lee Eun-ju, right, and her North Korean counterpart Hong Un Jong shake hands and smile together for photographers during the artistic gymnastics women’s qualification at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Seven months ahead of the Pyeongchang Olympics, many in South Korea, including new liberal President Moon Jae-in, hope to use the Games as a venue to promote peace with rival North Korea. To do so, the North’s participation is essential, but an ongoing nuclear tension and a lack of winter sports athletes in North Korea could ruin the attempts at reconciliation. (Kim Do-hoon/Yonhap via AP, File)


South Korea’s gymnastics federation plans to talk with North Korean officials about fielding a unified 2020 Olympic gymnastics team during next month’s world championships, according to Yonhap News Agency.

It would be the latest in a series of inter-Korean moves in Olympic sports this year, beginning with the joint Olympic women’s hockey team in PyeongChang.

The two nations also marched together in the PyeongChang Olympic Opening Ceremony behind the Korea Unification flag. Last month, they fielded joint canoeing, rowing and women’s basketball teams at the Asian Games.

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In said in a statement that the countries planned to jointly bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics, and they would look to cooperate in major sports events such as the 2020 Games, without elaborating.

In artistic gymnastics, South Korea has qualified men’s teams to the last seven Olympics, while North Korea last had a team at the 1980 Moscow Games. North Korea has the reigning Olympic vault champion, Ri Se-Gwang.

Neither North Korea nor South Korea had a full women’s team at any of the last three Olympics.

However in Rio, South Korean gymnast Lee Eun-Ju took a selfie with North Korean Hong Un-Jong as they trained for competition. The photo captured global headlines, and IOC president Thomas Bach described it as a “great gesture.”

The 2020 Olympic gymnastics team event fields will include 12 for the men and 12 for the women, with qualifying beginning at next month’s worlds in Doha.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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