South Korean news agency Yonhap report that Seoul’s Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism have already asked 40 national governing bodies if they would be willing to compete alongside athletes from the North during Jakarta Palembang 2018, scheduled to take place between August 18 and September 2.
Basketball, canoeing, gymnastics, judo, rowing, soft tennis and table tennis have already expressed interest in the idea.
Such a move would follow the initiative that saw a unified women’s ice hockey team compete at the Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang in February.
A single Korean team also participated at the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships in Japan and at the FIFA World Youth Championship in Portugal in the same year.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un pledged to gradually reduce weapons on both sides during their meeting yesterday and to push towards turning the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953 into a peace treaty this year.
The summit, held in the truce village of Panmunjom, was only the third such meeting between the leaders of the North and South Korea.
It follows a remarkable turnaround in Pan-Korean relations following a New Year’s address by Kim in which he spoke enthusiastically for the first time about participating at the Winter Olympics.
It is likely that a unified team at the Asian Games remains a long way off, however.
International Federations responsible for the running of each sport would have to grant their backing and, while this would be very likely given the positive publicity it would bring, public and athlete backing may be harder to muster.
The decision to set-up the unified ice hockey team just weeks before the Games caused a backlash in South Korea due to the lack of consultation beforehand.
It is also possible that the volatile political situation on the Korean peninsula could have changed once again by August.
Talks are also underway to ensure North Korean participation in next year’s International Swimming Federation World Championships in Gwangju, 330 kilometres south of Seoul.
“We’re trying to ensure that efforts for peace on the Korean Peninsula, made at the inter-Korean summit and the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, will bear fruits at the 2019 FINA World Championships,” said Organsing Committee secretary general Cho Young-teck, as reported by Yonhap.
“We’ll work with all stakeholders to bring North Korean athletes to next year’s test event and help them train here in Gwangju.”
Cho claimed that North Korean participation remains their priority, but they would also embrace the prospect of a unified team.
“We’ll leave all the possibilities open in our discussions,” he added.