Gwangju Mayor Lee Yong-sup speaks at a meeting of officials from the Party for Democracy and Peace at Gwangju City Hall on July 10. (Photo: Yonhap)Sports News
Date : 10 Jul 2019
Gwangju, Korea, July 10, 2019: The head of the organising committee of the 18th FINA World Championships in South Korea has made a last-ditch plea for North Korean athletes to take part, reports Yonhap News.
Two days before the July 12 opening ceremony, Gwangju Mayor Lee Yong-sup called on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to "make an historic decision" to allow his athletes to cross the border.
The biennial competition will run through July 28, with more than 2,600 athletes from 194 nations in action. The deadline for registration fell on July 3, with North Korea not responding to multiple invitations from Gwangju, which is located 330km south of Seoul.
"Using several channels we have repeatedly asked North Korea to participate," Lee said at a press conference at Gwangju City Hall. "It's quite regrettable that we haven't heard anything from them."
Lee said North Korea's presence in the competition would “hopefully usher in a new era of peace on the Korean Peninsula."
He added: “Sport has always transcended ideologies and politics. Since these world championships are a sporting event they should be handled differently to other issues surrounding the region."
FINA, the international governing body for aquatics, has also tried to bring North Korea to the event, which features all six of FINA’s disciplines.
“I hope North Korea doesn't disappoint the 1.5 million residents of Gwangju," Lee said. "I'd also like to ask the unification ministry and the central government to make the final push for North Korea's participation. People in Gwangju and I will be waiting for the good news."
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