South Korea said Tuesday that it will allow North Korean athletes to compete in the Asian Games to be held in South Korea later this year.
Seoul will allow Pyongyang to compete in the games if North Korea informs the organizing committee of the regional sport event of its decision to send its players to Incheon, an official of the unification ministry said.
The Asian Games are set to run from Sept. 19 to Oct. 4 in Incheon, a port city west of Seoul.
The North has yet to officially inform the committee of its plans. The deadline for the notification is June 20, according to the official. The comment came a day after North Korea’s state news agency said its men’s and women’s football teams will compete in the Asian Games. The news agency did not elaborate.
Incheon city and the organizing committee welcomed the North’s decision.
The North’s move came amid its conciliatory gestures to ease tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula. South Korea dismissed the North’s overture as a “deceptive” ploy.
In 2002, North Korea sent 184 athletes and a squad of more than 100 female cheerleaders to Busan, South Korea’s second-largest city, for the Busan Games.
In 2003, North Korea dispatched 197 athletes and a squad of more than 300 all-female cheerleaders to South Korea’s southeastern city of Daegu to attend the Universiade, an international sports event for university athletes. (Yonhap News)