Despite recent cooperation among North Korea and South Korea, including the unification of Olympic teams for the opening ceremonies and several sports during the 2018 Winter Olympics held in Pyeong-Chang, South Korea, athletes from North Korea remain unregistered for the 2019 FINA World Championships, which will take place this August in Gwangju, South Korea.
The possible absence of North Korea from the 2019 World Championships inspired FINA and the Organizing Committee in Gwangju to hold a press conference on May 23rd in Gwangju “in order to underline the importance of DPR Korea (PRK) presence in the FINA showcase,” per a FINA press release.
With only 50 days remaining until the start of the 18th FINA World Championships, the hesitation of the DPRK also now throws into question future sporting events North and South Korea have stated they will unify for, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and the 2032 Olympic Games, which the two countries once expressed interest in launching a joint bid to host.
FINA and the Gwangju Organizing Committee’s “joint declaration” requesting the participation of the North Korean delegation is copied below:
“We respectfully request the North Korean team to take part in the upcoming FINA World Championships in Gwangju”
There are only 50 days remaining before the opening of the 18th FINA World Championships.
Gwangju, together with FINA (Fédération Internationale de Natation), is gearing up to offer a warm and heartfelt welcome to more than 15,000 participants from over 200 countries. We are putting our utmost effort to ensure flawless preparation of the Championships featuring venues, accommodation, transportation, safety measures, and cultural events in order to stage one of the best Championships ever in its history.
Our official slogan “Dive into Peace” moves us towards the World Championships.
We wish to demonstrate it to the world that sports can overcome the barriers of politics and ideology through the upcoming World Championships held in the only divided country in the world, and to prove the fact that communications and exchanges through sports is peace which also reflects one of the key pledges of our city.
We are only a few days away from June 12th, the deadline of the registration for the Championships, and we earnestly desire the North Korean team to participate.
The North Korea’s participation in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games opened the national reconciliation and the path towards peace in the peninsula wide, consequently led to the inter-Korean summit and the summit meeting between North Korea and the United States.
It is our hopes that we get together once again here in Gwangju as we did in the recent Olympic Games.
We sincerely hope that one of the commitment made in the Panmunjeom Declaration in which “the two sides agreed to demonstrate their collective wisdom, talents, and solidarity by jointly participating in international sports events” to be kept.
To note, 43 percent of the qualification in aquatics for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are available in the upcoming FINA World Championships. If both teams unify once again, it will open opportunities for us to participate in all events as the host nation.
It is a golden opportunity for us to reconcile and our athletes to unite together, and exhibit our spirit and show the peace on the peninsula to the world.
We would like to witness the outstanding performances of the North Korean athletes in Gwangju. 1.5 million Gwangju citizens, as well as the other South Koreans, are looking forward to cheering for the athletes together with the unified flag and seeing collaborations between the Korean artists on the stage.
The citizens of Gwangju and families and friends of the globe heartily hope the upcoming World Championships to be held in great success filled with peaceful waves.
In the hopes of delivering a Championships that will bring peace and unity to the world, we respectfully invite the North Korean team, cheering squad and performance groups to the festivity.
See you in Gwangju, the city of peace, on July 12th.”