North Asian table tennis match setAthletes from both Koreas, China and Japan will gather in Lausanne, Switzerland on June 23 for a mixed table tennis friendly hosted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in commemoration of Olympic Day, the sports body announced Thursday.
The IOC said in a statement that it hoped the event helps promote dialogue on and around the Korean Peninsula. Olympic Day, held every year on June 23 to honor the creation of the IOC in 1894, is a celebration of sport and educational and cultural activities.
“Sport must continue to build bridges and show what it can do to bring people together,” said IOC President Thomas Bach, while highlighting the joint march of South and North Korea during the opening ceremony of the PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games last February, held in the South Korean province of Gangwon.
“Japan and China will be the next hosts of the Olympic Games and Olympic Winter Games, and these mixed teams including athletes from North and South Korea, Japan and China, and the exhibition match, give us a glimpse of how sport can unite and make a contribution to changing the world through sport.”
The IOC said it was planning to start discussions on the event in Lausanne with all the countries concerned.
Participating athletes will be as follows.
From South Korea: Kim Kyung-ah, Olympic bronze medalist in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, and Ryu Seung-min, Olympic gold medalist in Athens, who now serves as an IOC member.
From North Korea: Kim Song-i, Olympic bronze medalist in Rio 2016, and Pak Sin-hyok, an elite player with the International Table Tennis Federation.
From China: Ding Ning and Ma Long, both Olympic gold medalists from Rio.
From Japan: Ai Fukuhara, silver medalist in London 2012, and Tomokazu Harimoto, the youngest-ever winner of an International Table Tennis Federation World Tour men’s singles title at 14.
The athletes will be accompanied by the presidents of their countries’ national Olympic committees. The IOC reiterated in its statement that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was “fully committed” to the participation of its athletes in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, 2022 Beijing Winter Olympic Games, as well as the next editions of the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires this year and Lausanne in 2020. Kim was said to have relayed his interest during a meeting with Bach in Pyongyang last March.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN [firstname.lastname@example.org]