North Korea could co-host the 2021 Winter Asian Games with the South, a top Pyongyang sports official said Tuesday as the two countries’ unified ice hockey team played its last Olympic match. The Pyeongchang Olympics in the South have seen the North engage in a charm offensive, sending athletes, cheer leaders, and its leader Kim Jong Un’s sister to attend the Games and meet with President Moon Jae-in.
It is a marked contrast to the tensions of last year, when the nuclear-armed North carried out a barrage of missile tests and its biggest atomic blast to date. The governor of Gangwon province, which includes Pyeongchang, said at the weekend he was considering a bid for the two Koreas to co-host the 2021 Winter Asian Games, adding the North’s Masikryong ski resort could be used.
Chang Ung, the North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the idea was “sufficiently possible”. “Since a smaller number of countries participates in the Asian Games, it would be easier than the Olympics,” he was quoted by Yonhap news agency as saying in Beijing on his way back to Pyongyang. But previous speculation about the two co-hosting sporting events has gone nowhere.
Chang praised the Pyeongchang Games as “perfect”, adding: “The Olympics are a great success, thanks to unity achieved by the Korean people.” The Asian Winter Games take place every four years, with the hosts for the 2021 event to be chosen at this year’s Summer Asian Games in Indonesia in August.