The Seoul Metropolitan Government said Wednesday that it will push to invite North Korean athletes to participate in the 100th Korean National Sports Festival scheduled to be held in the South Korean capital from Oct. 4-10, 2019.
Unveiling the emblem and mascot of the centennial national sports event, the Seoul government said that the participation of North Korean athletes will help elevate next year's sports meet into an inter-Korean "peace festival."
For that purpose, Seoul's officials in charge in inter-Korean exchanges visited North Korea from Oct. 24-27 to discuss cross-border cooperation in sports and humanitarian assistance, it said.
The metropolitan government plans to dispatch a congratulatory delegation to North Korea in September next year in time for the opening of the North's own national sports festival.
It will then invite North Korean athletes to Seoul to hold friendly football and basketball matches between the capital cities of the two Koreas. In addition, the Seoul government will push to hold a taekwondo demonstration and a cultural performance by North Korea through cooperation with the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism and the Ministry of Unification.
"Under the principle of reciprocity, we have planned and proposed as many events as possible between Seoul and Pyongyang," said an official at the Seoul government.
The 100th National Sports Festival will be held at 69 venues throughout Seoul, including Jamsil Sports Complex. More than 30,000 people from 17 cities and provinces and 18 overseas Korean groups will participate.
"Hosting the landmark 100th National Sports Festival is a great source of pride for all Seoul citizens. I will do my best to prepare for and publicize the festival and ensure that all Korean people, including North Koreans, will pay attention and take part in the sports festival to further enhance national unity," said Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon.
The National Sports Festival has its origins in the All-Korea Baseball Series held in Seoul in 1920 during Japanese colonial rule. (Yonhap)