09/21/2018, 13.46
KOREA
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From PyeongChang towards peace: sport can bring the two Koreas and the world closer together

Interview with Ryu Seung-Min, South Korea's gold medalist involved in inter-Korean initiatives and member of Peace and Sport. He was moved by the women’s hockey players, the first joint Korean team. Younger people should be involved.

Seoul (AsiaNews) - Sport brings people closer together and builds bridges, as evidenced by the peaceful climate that is currently sweeping the Korean peninsula, says Ryu Seung-Min, a member of the Athletes' Commission of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), speaking to AsiaNews.

Today, International day of Peace, the Olympic tennis table champion joined the Champions for Peace club with Peace and Sport, an international organisation.

Born in Seoul in 1982, he has participated in many sporting events that included both Koreas, like the Asian Games in Indonesia and the table tennis world championship in Sweden, where the Korean athlete won the medal of bronze.

Ryu Seung-Min talked to AsiaNews about the journey that began in PyeongChang, when Korean athletes marched "under a unified Korean flag" at the opening ceremony, showing "that both Koreas are united".

Such a sign of reconciliation was boosted by the unified women's ice hockey team, which delivered a “strong message of peace to the world ".

For Ryu, his most exciting memory of the Olympics is linked to the athletes. "I was touched and the moment was beyond words. After the end of the ice hockey competition, all spectators remained in their seats and encouraged the athletes [despite their defeat]. When I saw this moment, I could feel how valuable a moment it was."

For the athlete, sport brings together people from all over the world. "I personally think that sport is one of the best mediums to bring the world together.”

For the Olympic champion, sport allows people to overcome the barriers built by decades of division.

For him, "The major challenges in dialoguing with North Korean athletes were that we had to watch every word we said because of the different perspectives that South and North Korea athletes have. In fact, it was more difficult in the past. However, athletes from both Koreas were able to maintain a very good relationship by opening their minds".

As a matter of principle, "The role of sports in peace process should be free from any form of discrimination and must ensure fair play regardless of interests."

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