South Korea has invited North Korea to attend next year’s Asian Games to be held in the western port city of Incheon, a senior government official said Tuesday.
“We asked North Korea to participate in the 2014 Incheon Asian Games some two months ago via the Olympic Council of Asia,” Park Jong-gil, the second vice minister of culture, sports and tourism, told reporters.
“We also conveyed our hope via other channels for inviting not only its athletes but supporters,” he said. “The North has yet to make any response, but I expect to hear good news from Pyongyang soon.”
Inter-Korean relations remain soured after an agreement to hold their first high-level talks in six years unraveled last week due to a dispute over the level of chief delegates that were to attend the meeting.
Earlier this month, Incheon Mayor Song Young-gil made an official request to OCA President Sheikh Ahmad Al-Fahad Al-Sabah and Prince Ali Bin Al-Hussein of Jordan, FIFA’s vice president, for their cooperation in inviting the communist North to the upcoming sporting event in his city, just west of Seoul.
The 2014 Asian Games, the 17th of its kind, is scheduled to take place in Incheon for 16 days from Sept. 19, with 437 events in 36 sports.
Incheon was awarded the right in 2007 defeating Delhi, India, to become the third city in South Korea to host the Asian Games after Seoul (1986) and Busan (2002).
Pyongyang competed in the 2002 Busan Games, dispatching 184 athletes and more than 100 supporters. It marked the first time that the North took part in an international competition held in the South since the armistice that halted the Korean War (1950-53).
North Korea did not apply to participate in the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games to be held for eight days in Incheon from June 29, 2013, becoming one of three countries out of 45 OCA members choosing not to take part, along with East Timor and Afghanistan.
“Undaunted, however, the Incheon municipal government will continue efforts to push for sports exchanges with the communist neighbor,” its official said. (Yonhap News)