Another highly symbolic step was taken when a joint Korean team played host Germany at the opening match of the Handball World Championship 2019 in the formerly divided city of Berlin. “This is a continuation of the IOC initiative at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 with the joint Korean team at the Opening Ceremony and the joint women’s ice hockey team. I would like to congratulate and thank IHF President Hassan Moustafa for having made this joint handball team possible,” IOC President Thomas Bach said.
He watched the first game of the tournament, which is being held in Germany and Denmark, together with the Federal President of Germany, Frank Walter Steinmeier, IHF President Moustafa and 13,500 visitors in the packed arena. “We have seen already at the Olympic Winter Games that sport can perhaps achieve what is difficult to achieve in politics,” Federal President Steinmeier told reporters at the match.
The IOC President, who met and congratulated the team after the game, stressed that the IOC will continue working on opportunities for joint Korean teams at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 and beyond. He has invited representatives of the National Olympic Committees (NOCs) and of the governments of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Republic of Korea to a meeting in February in Lausanne to discuss this topic. The interest of both NOCs and both governments in jointly hosting the Olympic Games 2032 will also be on the agenda of this meeting.
“The Olympic Games and sport show us what the world could look like if we were all guided by the Olympic spirit of respect and understanding,” Thomas Bach said.