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Unified Korean team to fight at East Asian Judo Championships

While political tensions on the Korean peninsula remain unresolved, the two nations are set to fight side by side thi...

Posted: Jun 6, 2018 3:26 PM
Updated: Jun 6, 2018 3:26 PM

While political tensions on the Korean peninsula remain unresolved, the two nations are set to fight side by side this weekend ... in Mongolia.

After competing together in women's ice hockey at the Winter Olympics, a unified Korean judo team will make history in the team competition at this year's East Asian Championships, held in the capital of Ulaanbaatar.

Unified Korean judo team to fight at East Asian Championships

It's the first time the peninsula has united in a summer sport

Peninsula marched under same flag at Winter Olympics

It's the first time North and South Korea have united under one flag "in a summer sports" event, according to both the office of the Mongolian President and the International Judo Federation.

"Judo is more than a sport," said IJF President Marius Vizer, adding plans are "on track" for a similarly unified team at the September's World Championships in Baku, Azerbaijan.

"Judo is a martial art, an Olympic sport and a tool to unite societies through our values."

READ: The judoka who switched nations to win Olympic gold

'Strengthening friendly relations'

In a historic meeting a little over a month ago, the leaders of North and South Korea committed themselves to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and pledged to bring a formal end to the Korean War, 65 years after hostilities ceased.

US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un are also due to meet at the Capella Hotel on Singapore's Sentosa Island on June 12.

On Wednesday, talks between North and South Korean sporting officials took place in the Mongolian capital, with a decision reached that competitors from both sides of the Korean divide would come together in Sunday's team event.

Japan, China, Taipei, Macau and Hong Kong have also confirmed their participation at the Championships, taking the total number athletes present at the Central Sports Palace to over 200.

Each team will feature five athletes and the Unified Korean Flag will adorn the Korean judogi (uniform).

A statement from the office of the Mongolia President, Kaltmaagin Battulga, stressed the importance of "strengthening the friendly relations and mutual respect between East Asian nations and promoting exchange of experience and new talent."

Battulga, a former martial arts star who turned to politics after heading up the Mongolian Judo Association, will open Saturday's individual competition.

A full list of competitors for the team will be finalized on Friday.

READ: Unified Korean ice hockey team proves that 'winning isn't everything'

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It's not the first time the Koreas have come together under a single flag in a sporting environment.

At this year's Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, athletes marched together at the opening ceremony before taking to the ice in a diplomatic breakthrough that make global headlines.

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