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S. Korea blocks N. Korea's participation in martial arts competition: report

All News 10:25 July 27, 2016

SEOUL, July 27 (Yonhap) – The South Korean government has blocked North Korea's participation in a martial arts competition here in September, after Pyongyang accepted an invitation, a Washington-based news media report said Wednesday.

According to Voice of America (VOA), the organizers of World Martial Arts Masterships asked George Vitale, the spokesman of the North Korea-led International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), to check whether North Korean taekwondo practitioners are willing to participate in its inaugural event in Cheongju, some 130 kilometers south of Seoul.

Vitale, who was in Pyongyang last month for the ITF's 50-year anniversary event, told the VOA that North Korea accepted the organizer's offer. However, the South Korean government blocked the North Koreans from competing in the event, citing the recent situation with the North. Following Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January and additional missile tests, the relationship between the South and the North has been cold.

According to the VOA, the South Korean government told the organizers that it will not allow North Korean athletes to enter South Korea and added that since North Chungcheong Province, not a private entity, is the main organizer, it will not oppose the central government's decision.

The World Martial Arts Masterships is set for Sept. 2-8. The event aims to bring together some 2,100 people from 60 countries and offer 15 martial arts programs, including taekwondo, judo and kickboxing.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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