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Indonesia officially making play for 2032 Olympics

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JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesia has officially joined bidding to host the 2032 Olympics following its success staging the Asian Games last year, the deputy chairman of its national Olympic committee said Tuesday, highlighting the rising ambitions of the giant but perennially underperforming Southeast Asian nation.

Muddai Madang said letters from President Joko Widodo and the national Olympic committee were delivered to the International Olympic Committee’s president in Lausanne last week by Indonesia’s ambassador to Switzerland.

“Indonesia is ready to host the Olympics,” Madang told The Associated Press. “What we need now is support from all the Indonesian people and the international community.”

Widodo, who is campaigning for re-election, made a surprise announcement of plans to bid for the 2032 games after the Indonesian cities of Jakarta and Palembang co-hosted the 18th Asian Games in August, and the process has gathered momentum. The Olympics have never been held in Southeast Asia.

There were doubts Indonesia could successfully host the Asian Games, an event involving more than 10,000 athletes, but its reasonably smooth execution was praised by the IOC, paving the way for a tilt at even bigger sports events.

India is planning to bid for the 2032 games and North and South Korea have confirmed an intention to launch a joint bid. Australia and Russia have also expressed interest.

Problems with the 2016 Olympics in Brazil, a developing country that like Indonesia suffers endemic corruption, may count against the chances of the Indonesian bid.

By some estimates it cost Brazil about $20 billion to host the Olympics, the kind of bill that is likely to raise objections in Indonesia, despite projections it will be among the world’s 10 biggest economies by 2030 with a population nearing 300 million.

Tokyo is hosting the 2020 Olympics. Paris and Los Angeles have already been selected to host the following two games, in 2024 and 2028, respectively.

Seoul is South Korea’s choice for 2032 Olympics bid

Seoul Olympic bid
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SEOUL, South Korea — South Korea will push its capital, Seoul, in its bid for the 2032 Summer Olympics. Its Olympic committee announced the decision Monday. Seoul received 34 of 49 votes, edging out the southern port city of Busan.

The move could be another peac gesture toward North Korea, which is expected to be a joint host with South Korea.

The Koreas are expected to officially inform the International Olympic Committee of their intent to co-host the 2032 Olympics on Friday during a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland. While North Korea has yet to formally announce its candidate city for the Olympics, its capital, Pyongyang, is seen as the obvious choice because it’s much more developed than other North Korean cities.

While Monday’s decision by the South Korean Olympic committee needs approval from the country’s sports and finance ministries, that is seen as a formality since the government has described the 2032 Games as a crucial opportunity to stabilize relations with North Korea.

Following a meeting of their leaders in September, the rival Koreas agreed to pursue a joint bid for the 2032 Olympics and also send combined teams to the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, among other steps to promote reconciliation.

“Seoul will cooperate with the national government so that the 2032 Summer Olympics become something more than a sports festival — an opportunity to change the fate of the Korean Peninsula,” Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said in a statement.

Currently it would be extremely difficult to host the Olympics in North Korea because of heavy U.S.-led sanctions against the North which are unlikely to be removed until it takes firmer steps toward relinquishing its nuclear weapons. There continue to be doubts whether North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is willing to deal away an arsenal he may see as his strongest guarantee of survival.

There is also declining public support among South Koreans for hosting large sports events due to worries over huge costs.

Following a provocative series of nuclear and missile tests in 2017, Kim met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in three times last year and also held a historic summit with U.S. President Donald Trump in June in Singapore. But the summits failed to produce much substance regarding how and when North Korea would denuclearize, and negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang seemed to be reaching a stalemate before they agreed to a second Trump-Kim meeting on Feb. 27-28 in Hanoi, Vietnam.

For some South Koreans, it’s mind-boggling that the Koreas are even talking about jointly hosting the Olympics. North Korea boycotted the 1986 Asian Games and the 1988 Summer Olympics, both held in Seoul, and relations dramatically worsened ahead of the Seoul Olympics with the North’s bombing of a South Korean passenger jet that killed all 115 aboard in November 1987.

The Koreas have often used sports to facilitate diplomacy. North Korea sent hundreds of people to the Winter Olympics in South Korea’s Pyeongchang in February last year, including Kim’s sister, who conveyed his desire for an inter-Korean summit following tensions over North Korea’s weapons tests.

North, South Korea progress unified Tokyo 2020 talks, 2032 Olympic bid

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South Korea reportedly asked North Korea to form joint Tokyo 2020 Olympic teams in six or seven sports, and the nations agreed to tell the International Olympic Committee officially of their 2032 Olympic bid intention on Friday.

In September, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-In said in a statement that the countries planned to jointly bid for 2032, and they would look to cooperate in major sports events such as the 2020 Games, without elaborating at the time.

Some more details emerged Friday, particularly regarding creating teams of North and South Korean athletes at the Tokyo Games.

“First of all, our athletes who’ve qualified for the Olympics should not suffer damages if unified teams are to be formed,” an unnamed South Korea Olympic Committee official said, according to Yonhap News Agency. “We also decided to minimize our requests for the IOC or international federations’ help. Instead of thinking about the results at the competitions, we will focus on the process of assembling unified teams that will show the two Koreas’ efforts moving toward one goal.”

The Koreas will send a unified team to the men’s handball world championship in January, it was announced last month.

In PyeongChang, the two nations marched together in the Opening Ceremony behind the Korea Unification flag and fielded a joint women’s hockey team. In the summer, they fielded joint canoeing, rowing and women’s basketball teams at the Asian Games.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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