North Korea and South Korea have told the umpires that they don’t want to compete on the table against each other here in Halmstad, Sweden, when they walked into the court for their Liebherr 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships quarter-final match.
Instead, both teams requested that they want to form a unified Korean Team to compete together in the semi-final, which will be held 4th of May at 11:00am against either Japan or Ukraine.
The decision for the unified team was a tripartite one between the leaders of the North and South Korean Table Tennis teams and the ITTF.
ITTF President Thomas WEIKERT who was chairing the ITTF Board of Directors meeting at the time stated: “When I informed the Board of Directors about this development, the unified team received a standing ovation from the delegates who showed their sign of support to this historic move.”
The move follows the North and South Korean leaders’ pledge for “lasting peace” to the Korea peninsula just last week, which portrays that table tennis is perfect medium to be promoting peace through sport.
President of the Table Tennis Association of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea JU Jong Chol stated: “this is the result of the strong support provided by the ITTF and IOC. We will do our best to get more successful results internationally in a joint effort between North and South Korea.”
Korea Table Tennis Association Vice President and IOC member RYU Seungmin said "This is a big historical decision for both our countries. This is Table Tennis history so we are very happy. I would like to thank the ITTF for their strong support. This is an important statement to promote peace between our countries through Table Tennis."
The last time that a Unified Korea team played the World Table Tennis Championships was 1991 in Chiba, Japan where they shocked defending Champion China to be crowned World Champions.
It has been a big year for the two Korean countries joining forces, after they made history by marching together in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games earlier in Pyongchang, which was the most significant sign of unity in international sport since the 1991 World Table Tennis Championships. It is thanks to the IOC that North Korea is participating here in Halmstad, due to their Olympic Solidarity support.
A Gutsy performance from both sides