Every year on 23 June, Olympic Day marks the day the International Olympic Committee was founded in 1894.
This year’s celebrations in Lausanne, Switzerland, will take on added significance.
The IOC has invited delegations from both North and South Korea to the Olympic Capital.
They will be joined by Japan and China, the next two Olympic host countries respectively, and neighbours of the Koreas.
Korean peninsula dialogue
North Korean athletes participated at PyeongChang 2018 earlier this year with support from the IOC.
IOC president Thomas Bach has met the leaders of North and South Korea.
An IOC statement says both Kim Jong-un and Moon Jae-in “asked the IOC to continue to support the peace process with actions in sport.”
Further talks are planned with both sides in Lausanne. Representatives from China and Japan will also be present.
“This meeting is another step by Olympic sport to promote dialogue on and around the Korean peninsula.
“The joint march at the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 showed the world the role that the Olympic Movement can play in opening the door to peace.
“Sport must continue to build bridges and show what it can do to bring people together.”
—Thomas Bach, IOC President
Aside from the joint march, both Koreas also fielded a single unified team in women’s ice hockey at PyeongChang 2018.
The North and South Korean women’s table tennis teams then also formed a joint team at the World Team Championships in Sweden.
During Bach’s recent visit to Pyongyang, Kim Jong-un “fully committed to the participation of athletes from his country” at Tokyo 2020 and Beijing 2022, as well as the 2018 and 2020 Youth Olympic Games, the IOC said.
It plans to provide support for North Korean athletes to prepare and qualify for those Games.
“The IOC will be able to discuss further progress toward this participation with all the partners concerned,” it added.
Table tennis diplomacy
Athletes from the four countries will also take part in a mixed table tennis exhibition to mark Olympic Day.
- Rio 2016 Olympic champions Ding Ning and Ma Long from China;
- IOC member and Athens 2004 champion Ryu Seung-min and two-time bronze medallist Kim Kyung-ah from South Korea;
- London 2012 silver medallist Ai Fukuhara and 14-year-old sensation Tomokazu Harimoto from Japan; and
- Rio 2016 bronze medallist Kim Song I and ITTF Tour athlete Pak Sin Hyok from North Korea.
The exhibition will provide “a glimpse of how sport can unite and make a contribution to changing the world through sport,” Bach said.
The full IOC statement can be found here: IOC continues with dialogue on the Korean peninsula