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Japan to allow entry to N. Korean athletes for Asian Winter Games: report

2017/02/06 02:10

TOKYO, Feb. 6 (Yonhap) -- Japan will allow entry to North Korean athletes for an upcoming regional sports competition as an exception to its travel ban, a news report said Monday.

Citing multiple government sources, Kyodo News said Japan will let North Koreans compete at the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo from Feb. 19 to 26.

The news agency noted that while Japan normally bans North Korean nationals from entering the country, it will make an exception for sports exchange.

In February last year, the North Korean women's football team was also allowed to travel to Japan for the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Japan has imposed the entry ban in light of North Korea's nuclear tests and long-range ballistic missile launches.

According to Kyodo's report, the Japanese government will require all North Korean officials accompanying the athletes to submit valid proof of identity and check for any connection with the North Korean military or its ruling Workers' Party.

A Japanese foreign ministry official told Kyodo that politics and sports should be kept separate.

About 20 athletes and officials have signed up for the Asian Winter Games, according to the Japanese government and the competition organizers.

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