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8 participants in S. Korean martial arts event still missing

All Headlines 14:54 September 07, 2016

By Joo Kyung-don

CHEONGJU, South Korea, Sept. 7 (Yonhap) -- The organizers of an international martial arts event here said Wednesday seven athletes and one coach from three countries are still missing as the competition is coming to an end.

The organizers of the World Martial Arts Masterships in Cheongju, some 130 kilometers south of Seoul in North Chungcheong Province, said that three jujitsu fighters from Sri Lanka, four belt wrestling athletes from Tajikistan and a wushu coach for Uganda have gone missing. The masterships will wrap up its seven-day run on Thursday.

The organizers said they are working with the police, the National Intelligence Service (NIS) and the Korea Immigration Service to find the missing athletes who apparently seek to stay in the country illegally.

The organizers said the athletes received a 30-day short-term visa to compete at the masterships. They will be officially classified as illegal immigrants when their visas expire.

The three Sri Lankan athletes disappeared after arriving here Saturday, leaving their passports, plane tickets and other belongings in their rooms. Their first event in jujitsu was scheduled for Tuesday.

The whereabouts of the four Tajikistan athletes are also unknown since they arrived in South Korea on Saturday and Sunday. They were set to compete on Wednesday.

The organizers said the Ugandan wushu coach has apparently been missing since Sunday. But they added that local authorities recently received a clue as to the coach's whereabouts and are tracking him down.

The organizers, meanwhile, said four athletes from Uzbekistan who were reported missing last weekend have all returned to their team safely. The organizers said these athletes left their rooms to meet friends and families in South Korea without notifying team officials.

The inaugural martial arts event opened on Friday for a week-long run. The organizers said some 2,192 athletes and officials from 81 countries took part in 17 events, including taekwondo, judo, kickboxing and kendo, as of Wednesday.

kdon@yna.co.kr
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