International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge ruled out the idea of North Korea co-hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics awarded to South Korea last week.
“The IOC awards the Games to one city in one country,” he told reporters in Tokyo on Thursday. “As far as spreading venues between the two countries, that’s something we do not consider under the current Olympic Charter.
“We’re not going to change the Olympic Charter because otherwise you complicate the organization.”
After the South Korean resort of Pyeongchang won the 2018 bid, political parties in Seoul agreed to try to have the two Koreas field a unified team and train together with the main opposition Democratic Party vowing to explore ways for them to co-host the Games.
North Korean IOC member Jang Ung said in Tokyo yesterday Pyongyang may consider sharing some 2018 events if the current “serious political and military situation” on the divided Korean peninsula eases.
Rogge, in Tokyo to attend ceremonies marking the centenary of the Japanese Olympic Committee, said it is still possible for the two Koreas to march together at ceremonies, as they did at the 2000 and 2004 Summer Games, and form a joint team.
“There could be symbolic actions together like the joint parade or, why not, the participation of a joint team,” the Belgian said.
“This is something we could consider and will also have a very symbolic effect. But don’t expect the IOC to spread the venues between the two countries,” he said, adding his organization is “very sympathetic” about “bringing the athletes together”.
There have been cases in which Winter Olympics events were staged in two nearby cities and some Summer Games events were held in other cities for geographical and climatic reasons.
Relations between the two Koreas, technically at war since fighting against each other in the early 1950s, have worsened sharply in recent years and there was no joint march in Beijing in 2008 or at the Asian Games in China last year.
An opinion poll released in Seoul on Monday showed 57.5 percent of South Koreans support a unified team while 30.5 percent are opposed. But 73.3 percent rejected the idea of co-hosting the event.
The Korea Times said any co-hosting plan was premature and would need IOC approval. It recalled attacks by the North apparently aimed at disrupting two previous international sports events.
In November 1987, the North’s agents blew up a Korean Air plane in mid-air in an apparent attempt to dissuade people from attending the 1988 Seoul Olympics.
And a naval battle between the two sides broke out during the South’s co-hosting with Japan of the football World Cup in 2002.