SEOUL, May 14 (Yonhap) -- The South Korean organizers for the upcoming FINA World Aquatics Championships said Tuesday they are gearing up preparations to host the sporting event in the southwestern city of Gwangju.
"Preparations for the event's facilities and other operational issues are well on track," Cho Young-teck, director general of the organizing committee of the Gwangju Championships, said in a press briefing in Seoul. "We are now making final touches."
The biennial World Championships will be held in Gwangju, 330 kilometers south of Seoul, and Yeosu, South Jeolla Province, from July 12-28, under the theme of "Dive into Peace."
It will be the 18th edition of the world swimming body's signature event and the first to take place in South Korea.
For a period of 17 days, about 7,000 aquatic sports athletes from about 200 countries worldwide will compete for 76 gold medals in six disciplines -- swimming, diving, water polo, artistic swimming, open water swimming and high diving.
Cho said the host city will utilize swimming pools and centers built for the 2015 Summer Universiade that took place in Gwangju.
Nambu University International Aquatics Center, the main venue that hosts swimming and diving, will be expanded to a capacity of over 10,000 seats from the current 3,400.
The process will be completed by the end of May, with remodeling of other venues for artistic swimming, water polo and high diving to be also finished before June.
The athletes' village, a complex of 1,600 apartments, was completed last month. It will open to players a week before the official kickoff of the championships.
As to the participation of North Korean athletes, however, the committee official said he is still waiting for a response from Pyongyang.
"We've been making constant effort to push for a joint Korean team at the upcoming event," Cho said. "But there's no response from North Korea yet."
South Korea has been trying to form a joint Korean squad in women's water polo at the Gwangju World Championships based on the improving inter-Korean relationship that started from the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. But inter-Korean talks on sports exchanges have been stalled due to the recently resurfaced tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
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