Two Koreas fail to reach agreement over Asian Games

July 17, 2014

By Yi Whan-woo

The two Koreas failed to reach an agreement over Pyongyang’s plan to dispatch athletes and cheerleaders to the 2014 Incheon Asian Games in September, the government said Thursday.

The South Korean delegation said the three-member delegations from Seoul and Pyongyang could not agree on the agenda at the meeting in the border village of Panmunjeom.

It added they also failed to fix a date for further talks to finalize a range of issues, including the number of cheerleaders, costs and their final means of transportation for the quadrennial games that will run from Sept. 19 until Oct. 4.

Secretary General Kwon Kyung-sang of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee headed the Seoul delegates while Son Kwang-ho, vice chairman of Pyongyang’s National Olympic Committee, led his group.

North Korea proposed to send 350 athletes by airplane and 350 cheerleaders by train through the railroad that connects the two Koreas, an official from the delegation said on condition of anonymity.

Secretary General Kwon Kyung-sang of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee, second from front in the right row, introduces other South Korean delegates to Son Kwang-ho, back in the left row, vice chairman of Pyongyang's National Olympic Committee, during working-level talks between the two Koreas event at Panmunjeom, Thursday, about the quadrennial sporting event. Kwon and Son led their respective three-member delegations. (Yonhap)

Secretary General Kwon Kyung-sang of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games Organizing Committee, second from front in the right row, introduces other South Korean delegates to Son Kwang-ho, back in the left row, vice chairman of Pyongyang’s National Olympic Committee, during working-level talks between the two Koreas event at Panmunjeom, Thursday, about the quadrennial sporting event. Kwon and Son led their respective three-member delegations. (Yonhap)

He also said Pyongyang wanted to anchor a ferry in Incheon Port for their cheerleaders to stay in during their visit.

“They were displeased when our delegates began to ask detailed questions to finalize their plan,” the official said.

He added South Korea is willing to allow North Korea to transport its athletes and cheerleaders by its own airplanes and ships.

“It is widely accepted across the world for countries to send their athletes via its flag carrier to participate in a sporting event,” he said. It would be inappropriate for us to ban North Korea’s ships or planes from entering.”

The delegation official added the plan does not violate the May 24 sanctions imposed in 2010 that forbid all inter-Korean cooperation except for activities at the Gaeseong Industrial Complex. They were as a result of the sinking of the Navy ship Cheonan by a North Korean torpedo in March that year. The meeting on sports was the first since February 2008 when the two sides discussed forming a joint cheerleading contingent for the Beijing Olympics.

It will be the first time since 2005 that Pyongyang will dispatch cheerleaders to an international sporting event hosted by South Korea. Pyongyang previously said it will dispatch a “large group” of cheerleaders.

The North sent 288 female cheerleaders to the Busan Asian Games in 2002; 303 to the Daegu Universiade in 2003; and 124 to the Incheon Asian Athletics Championships in 2005.

The secretive state has adopted a dubious approach to inter-Korean issues — test-firing missiles into the East Sea on the one hand and making peace gestures on the other.

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