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N. Korea to skip military sporting event in S. Korea: organizer

2014/10/06 11:35

SEOUL, Oct. 6 (Yonhap) -- Reversing an earlier decision, North Korea has said it will not send soldiers to a military sporting event slated for this week in South Korea due to injuries, the organizing committee here said Monday.

The North had planned to send a 15-member delegation including 10 athletes to the 61st World Military Pentathlon Championship set to kick off on Wednesday for a nine-day run in South Korea's southeastern city of Yeongcheon.

According to a committee official, the communist country "notified the Conseil International du Sport Militaire (CISM) on Saturday of the renunciation, citing injuries of its athletes."

   Based in France, the CISM organizes diverse sporting events for the armed forces of its 134 member countries, including the pentathlon championship.

The athletes from the North had been scheduled to come to the South on Wednesday via Incheon International Airport, the main gateway to the nation, in what would be the first time for active service members from the North to come to the South for a sporting event.

"The pentathlon is a team event, with one group formed of four male and three female athletes, and injuries suffered even by one athlete could affect the whole results," the official said, without elaborating further.

"Factoring in inter-Korean ties recently, we don't see any reasons other than what the North mentioned," he added.

Expectations are running high for a breakthrough in deadlocked inter-Korean relations, as the two Koreas last week agreed to resume high-level talks. The agreement was made after Pyongyang unexpectedly sent high-profile figures, including Hwang Pyong-so, presumed to be the North's No. 2 man, to the closing ceremony of the Incheon Asian Games. They met with Seoul's prime minister, national security adviser and the unification minister.

As the preliminary event for the multisport World Games set to take place in October 2015 in South Korea's southeastern city of Mungyeong, the championship will bring together 328 soldiers from 35 countries who will compete in rifle shooting, obstacle run, 50-meter obstacle swimming, throwing, and cross country.