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Koreas combine table tennis teams rather than play each other

Sweden Table Tennis

Members of North Korea and South Korea table tennis teams pose together for a group photo after deciding to combine their teams to avoid playing against each other in the Quarter Finals of the World Team Table Tennis Championships at Halmstad Arena in Halmstad, Sweden, Thursday May 2, 2018. Their quarter final match was canceled after North and South Korea decided to play together in the semi finals, rather than eliminate one of their teams in the quarter final. ( Jonas Ekstromer/TT via AP)


HALMSTAD, Sweden (AP) — Ping pong diplomacy is bringing North and South Korea together at the world team table tennis championships.

The women’s teams from the two countries, originally competing separately at the competition in Sweden, decided Thursday to combine their teams rather than play each other in the quarterfinals.

“When I informed the board of directors about this development, the unified team received a standing ovation from the delegates who showed their sign of support to this historic move,” ITTF president Thomas Weikert said.

The move follows intense recent cross-border diplomacy by state leaders at home. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in vowed last week to work toward the “complete denuclearization” of the Korean Peninsula.

The combined Korean team at the table tennis tournament will next play Japan in the semifinals on Friday.

“(It’s) an important statement to promote peace between our countries through table tennis,” the South Korean team said.

MORE: IOC president meets with Kim Jong Un

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