History has been made in Halmstad
History has been made in Halmstad, Sweden, with North and South Korea announcing a Unified Korea team to continue competing at the Liebherr 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships.
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, following 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.
Regarding tis issue the ITTF held a press conference with ITTF President Thomas WEIKERT, ITTF CEO Steve DAINTON, ITTF Executive Vice Presidents Petra Sörling as well as Korea Table Tennis Association Vice President and IOC member RYU Seungmin.
“The idea came yesterday during our ITTF Foundation event. We learned that South and North Korea will meet each other in the quarterfinal. The idea that they should play toghether emerged, but we needed a lot of efforts and communications from all the parties in order to come closer to realization. There were no much of sleep tonight. We received approval from all sides and we also informed IOC about the decision. In addition all teams that could be involved in the matches were informed and they gave us their approval which is great gesture from them,” stated WEIKERT.
RYU Seungmin said at the press conference that the ide came only after the outcome of the knock out draw.
“We did not planed this, we discussed it just now. I still can not believe it is true.”
Following the unification, the Unified Korea Team will be competing in the semi-finals against Japan as Korea (COR), and both teams will be seated at the bench during their match as a sign of unity between the teams.
"It's really unbelievable, but now we are a united team. Actually, I don't know what I'm feeling now, because I heard about this news last night, but at that time, it was still unclear if it is going to happen. This morning I heard that this is going to be real, so I'm really surprised," stated world number 12 SUH Hyowon from South Korea.
She added "I saw a movie about the united team in 1991. I feel a little bit strange that I'm in the united team now, and I hope we can make something like it was in the movie. I think, this united team aimed to be like unbeatable. We can share our skills. From now on, this team will be stronger than ever."
North Korean KIM Song I who won a bronze medal at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games shared "I also saw this video and I was surprised about the power of the united team. Who knew then that they could beat China at that time. So now we are together, and I believe now that we can do anything."
"It is an honor to be here. I've never thought about this situation before. Actually, I imagined about it, but I didn't expect that I could be a member of the united team."
By making the semi-finals, all players and coaches from both North and South Korean teams will be guaranteed a podium finish and a medal at the award ceremony at the Liebherr 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships.