S Y D N E Y, Australia, Sept. 10, 2000 -- Athletes from North and South Koreawill march together behind a unification flag during openingceremonies at the Olympics — the first time at the games bythe countries of the divided peninsula.
International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranchannounced the agreement for the joint march today during aspeech at the Sydney Opera House opening the IOC’s annual meeting.
“I think this is very good news for sport, for the Olympicfamily and also for the Games of Sydney,” Samaranch said.
Details were finalized in a meeting between Samaranch andofficials of both Korean delegations, then approved by the IOCexecutive board.
Will Wear White Uniforms
The athletes will wear the same white uniforms for Friday’sopening ceremony; during the games, however, they will compete asseparate countries, with their own uniforms, flags and anthems,Olympic officials said.
The Koreas remain technically in a state of war because theirthree-year conflict in the early 1950s ended in an armistice, not apeace treaty.
South Korean ministers raised the Olympics issue with theircounterparts during recent talks in Pyongyang, the capital of thecommunist North.
“It’s not so complicated to march together,” South Korean IOCexecutive board member Kim Un-yong said last week. “There is nodeadline. We will do everything to promote peace, dialogue andcooperation. We are willing to go to the last minute.”
Kim said he understood the North Koreans were concerned theirteam, numbering around 50 athletes, would barely be noticed amongthe 400-strong South Korean team.
Samaranch sent letters to the leaders of both countries beforeJune’s historic summit between South Korean President Kim Dae-jungand North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang.
Samaranch proposed that all Korean athletes march jointly underthe Olympic flag, which would be followed by the flags of eachcountry. South Korea quickly accepted the proposal.
The North Koreans said they didn’t see the need for the twonational flags because the countries’ ultimate goal is unification.