South Korea President Moon Jae-in speaks at the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 24. File Photo by Monika Graff/UPI | License Photo
Oct. 3 (UPI) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in lauded the prospects of an inter-Korea Olympics in 2032, calling the potential event the gateway to an "era of prosperity" for the Korean Peninsula.
Moon, who was attending the opening ceremony of the 100th annual Korean National Sports Festival in southern Seoul, credited athletes and sporting events for bridging the two Koreas during difficult times, Yonhap reported Friday.
"When inter-Korea dialogue was cut off, and the relationship was in a difficult situation, it was sports that opened the door to meetings and dialogue," Moon said Friday. "If the 1988 Seoul Olympics opened the era of harmony between East and West, the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics opened the era of peace on the Korean Peninsula."
Last week at the United Nations General Assembly, Moon met with International Olympic Committee Chairman Thomas Bach, where Moon confirmed his commitment to inter-Korea cooperation for the 2032 Summer Olympics.
There are 16 potential bids for the 2032 Summer Games. The winning bid will be selected in 2025.
On Friday, Moon urged the residents of Seoul to "take the lead again" in the hosting of the "2032 Seoul-Pyongyang Olympics."
In his speech, the South Korean president did not mention whether North Korea has signaled a willingness to co-host the Olympics with the South. Pyongyang has routinely rejected talks on inter-Korea cooperation and has refused to coordinate on urgent matters, including African swine fever.
The Korean National Sports Festival began during the colonial era, when Japan occupied the Korean Peninsula.
Moon said Friday the event contains the "Korean people's can-do attitude and confidence" in the face of subjugation, Newsis reported.
Moon also referred to the March First Movement, a people's uprising against Japanese colonial rule in 1919. Sports taught Koreans a "desire for independence, cultivated pride in the nation," the South Korean leader said.