Tuesday, April 15, 2014

South Korea hopeful of North Korea taking part in Incheon Asian Games

INCHEON: Come September, the 17th Asian Games will kick off in South Korea, and many will be tuning in to see if North Korea will join the other 44 participating Asian nations in the march past.
Tensions might be high between the two Koreas on the political front, but it could be more palatable from a sporting perspective.
Channel NewsAsia finds out why it is important for North Korea to attend the Asian Games.
When South Korea hosted the Asian Games in Busan in 2002, North Korean cheerleaders stole the show.
It was a symbolic and rare occasion, bringing athletes and officials from the two Koreas together.
Twelve years on, the Organising Committee for the Incheon Asian Games is confident of a similar outcome.
Mr Kim Young Soo, President of the Organising Committee for the Incheon Asian Games, said: "There's no doubt they will attend. On this assumption, we are preparing for their accommodation, transportation, safety and everything else so that all is in order."
He said with only about five months left before the start of the games, it would be difficult to field a joint unified team for some sporting events.
Mr Kim said: "But there's still a lot of room left to have a joint cheerleading team or to enter the games together. We are still very hopeful that North Korea will very soon announce its participation and propose talks to discuss these issues."
North Korea has until mid-August to decide on its participation.
North and South Korea have competed in the past as a unified team in major sporting events - like the 2002 Busan Asian Games, the Summer Olympics in 2000 and 2004, as well as the 2006 Winter Games.
Sports brings different nations together to compete in friendship and organisers are hopeful that the 17th Incheon Asian Games could be a catalyst for peace as it celebrates its games motto of 'Diversity Shines Here'.
Mr Kim said: "We are hopeful that this could help improve relations between South and North Korea. And that's why we think it is very important that North Korea attends."
North Korea's attendance is also significant as it would mean all 45 Asian nations will be taking part as they did at the last Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, four years ago.
With only about five months left before the start of the games, it remains to be seen if ties between the South and North Korea will improve, allowing the two Koreas to march together under a unified Korea flag at the opening and closing ceremonies of the Asian Games. 

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