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N. Korea delegates arrive in S. Korea for Asian Games

September 11, 2014
North Korean athletes arrive at Incheon International Airport Thursday for the Asian Games. (Yonhap)

North Korean athletes arrive at Incheon International Airport Thursday for the Asian Games. (Yonhap)

INCHEON (Yonhap) — The first batch of 94 members of the North Korean delegation to the Asian Games in South Korea arrived here on Thursday.

The group that flew from Pyongyang to Incheon International Airport included athletes in football and rowing, officials, referees, medical staff and journalists. They will participate in the 17th Asian Games scheduled to open on Sept. 19 in Incheon, lying just west of Seoul.

Jang Su-myong, a senior official from North Korea’s Olympic Committee, was among the 94 members on Thursday.

The opening ceremony will be held on Sept. 19, but the men’s and the women’s football tournaments will kick off on Sunday. The North Korean men’s team will play its first match against China on Monday. The women’s squad will open its Asiad against Vietnam the next day.

An Air Koryo plane carrying members of the North Korean delegation to the Incheon Asian Games arrives at Incheon International Airport on Sept. 11, 2014. (Yonhap)

An Air Koryo plane carrying members of the North Korean delegation to the Incheon Asian Games arrives at Incheon International Airport on Sept. 11, 2014. (Yonhap)

North Korea plans to send 150 athletes to compete in 14 of 36 sports, joined by 123 officials and referees. Incheon officials have said 87 of them will arrive next Tuesday, and 33 more will arrive on the opening day. Then 41 members will arrive on Sept. 22, and finally seven members of the delegation will be here on Sept. 28. The officials said 10 of the 273-member delegation will travel from Japan. One, Swiss-based football forward Pak Kwang-ryong, will fly directly from Switzerland to South Korea.

North Korea had also competed in the 2002 Asiad in Busan, the previous Asian Games staged in South Korea.

Each of the 45 member states of the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the continent’s governing body of sports and the organizer of the Asian Games, will take part in this year’s Asiad, Incheon officials have said.

North Korea will field Olympic gold medalists and world champions in Incheon, including Om Yun-chol and Kim Un-guk, a pair of reigning Olympic champs and world record-holders in men’s weightlifting.

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