Unified Korean teams at 2020 Olympics in four sports

The move was revealed after the two sports ministers and the Olympic representatives of North and South Korea met Olympic chief Thomas Bach at IOC headquarters in Lausanne.

IOC president Thomas Bach (centre) with North Korea's sports minister Kim Il-guk (right), and South Korean sports minister Do Jong-hwan in Lausanne.   -  AP Photo

The two Koreas are preparing to field unified teams for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in basketball, judo, field hockey and rowing, the International Olympic Committee said on Friday.

The IOC is insisting the joint teams take part in Olympic qualifying stages, with the participation of the various international federations.

The move was revealed after the two sports ministers and the Olympic representatives of North and South Korea met Olympic chief Thomas Bach at IOC headquarters in Lausanne.

In all, a women's basketball team, a women's field hockey team, a mixed judo team in four weight categories and for the men in three rowing events, the coxless fours, the quadruple sculls and the team of eight.

“We believe this a great example of the Olympic spirit,” said Bach.

In a separate press release, the IOC said: “These unified Korea teams will have to qualify for the Olympics.”

The initiative will have to be ratified at the next IOC executive commission in Lausanne March 26-28.

The move comes after the two Koreas marched under a joint flag at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Games, where they also sent out a unified women's ice hockey team.

The ice hockey team sparked a media sensation despite losing all five of its matches by a combined scoreline of 28-2.

The last 12 months have seen a series of joint Korean sides follow in the tracks of the ice hockey project, including judo and basketball.

A men's handball team lost all but one of its matches at the world championships in January, but the women's dragon boat squad won Asian Games gold in the 500m last year.

The women's table tennis team also reached the world championship semi-finals.

Pyongyang and Seoul have announced plans for a joint bid to host the 2032 Summer Games.

The two countries remain technically at war after they fought each other to a standstill in the 1950-53 Korean War.