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Bid for joint Korean women's handball team falls through: sources

All News 08:35 March 22, 2019

SEOUL, March 22 (Yonhap) -- South Korea and North Korea will not field a joint team at this year's women's world handball championships as Seoul had hoped, sources here said Friday.

According to local handball sources, the International Handball Federation (IHF) recently informed Seoul's Korea Handball Federation (KHF) that North Korea will not participate in this year's Women's Handball World Championship.

The tournament will take place in Kumamoto, Japan, from Nov. 30 to Dec. 15. North Korea cited scheduling reasons for its decision to skip the competition, the sources added.

In this file photo from Aug. 14, 2018, members of the South Korean and North Korean women's handball teams pose for photos together before the start of their preliminary match at the Asian Games at GOR Popki Cibubur in Jakarta. (Yonhap)

In January this year, the Koreas had a combined team at the men's handball worlds, co-hosted by Germany and Denmark. The IHF granted the unified team an exception with four additional roster spots, all of which were filled by North Korean players who joined the 16 existing South Koreans.

The IHF first came up with the idea of bringing the Korean teams together for the men's competition, and it made the same proposal for the women's world championships. The KHF was positively considering the idea, as long as the roster would be expanded to include North Korean players without having to cut South Koreans.

But some skeptics predicted the joint team at the women's tournament wouldn't sit well with other participating nations because it would affect the competitive balance to a greater degree than the men's unified team had.

The South Korean men's team is ranked 19th in the world and has never been a threat at the worlds, while North Korea isn't ranked.

On the women's side, South Korea is No. 10. Though North Korea is not ranked, it did finish fifth at last year's Asian Games in Indonesia, which included a 39-22 loss to South Korea in the preliminary round.

This Reuters file photo from Jan. 15, 2019, shows members of the unified Korean handball team salute the crowd after a 31-29 loss to Serbia at the International Handball Federation (IHF) World Men's Handball Championship at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin. (Yonhap)


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