In light of the recent positive development on the Korean Peninsula and following the initiative of IOC President Dr Thomas Bach, following which the two delegations of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (PRK) and the Republic of Korea (KOR) were marching together as one – under the name Korea and behind one Korean unification flag at the last Olympic Games, the Executive Committee of the International Handball Federation has decided to invite a unified Korean team (represented by players from both PRK and KOR) to participate in the 26th IHF Men’s Handball World Championship which will take place from 10 to 27 January 2019 in Denmark and Germany. Taking into consideration that the national team of the Republic of Korea has qualified for the World Championship, it will be a great opportunity to show once more the unique power of sport to unite people. In the past weeks, the IHF has been in touch with the handball federations of KOR and PRK and hopes that a unified team can be formed for the event in 2019.
In agreement with the Organising Committee of the 26th IHF Men’s Handball World Championship and with the approval of the IHF Executive Committee and the support of the IHF Commission for Organising and Competition, it has been decided to allocate the hopefully unified Korean team in Group A (the group of hosts Germany). It has also been agreed that the hopefully unified Korean team and the team of Germany will play in the opening match of the event, which will take place in Berlin on 10 January. Playing the opening match in a venue like Berlin carries a huge symbolic meaning as no other city in the world can better demonstrate the cooperation, the positive spirit and the benefits of a re-united nation.
With this gesture, the International Handball Federation joins the international community in the continuous efforts towards peaceful resolution to the long-lasting conflict affecting the Korean peninsula. Through the celebration of handball, let us show to the world the power of sports in bringing people together. Let handball be a beacon towards a better future in Korea. The political leaders of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, President Kim Jong-un (PRK), the Republic of Korea (KOR) President Moon Jae-in, Germany Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel as well as IOC President Thomas Bach will be invited to the opening match to show the importance of this match. WE sincerely hope that with this measure both handball national federations and their National Olympic Committees start more intensive talks to have a unified team at the 2019 Men’s World Championship.