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N. Korea to hold large sports competition to mark birth anniv. of state founder

All News 09:18 March 29, 2021

SEOUL, March 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea will hold a large sports competition next month to mark the birth anniversary of state founder Kim Il-sung, state media reported Monday.

The sports competition among athletes, students and workers from each province will kick off April 5 in Pyongyang and run through April 15, the birth anniversary of the late grandfather of current leader Kim Jong-un, according to the Korean Central News Agency.

The founder's birthday, referred to in the North as the Day of the Sun, is the country's biggest national holiday and has often been commemorated with massive military parades and other cultural and sports events.

The upcoming sports event has been held almost every year since 2013. It, however, was not held in 2019 and 2020, with last year's one apparently canceled due to concerns over the coronavirus.

The event is usually held in October on the occasion of the founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party, but this year's competition appears to have been moved up.

Some observers say that the North might be considering easing antivirus measures in time for the upcoming birth anniversary amid worries that the prolonged fight against COVID-19 has been taking a serious toll on its already fragile economy.

North Korea claims to be coronavirus-free, but it has imposed tight border controls and restricted gatherings and movement of people to ward off an outbreak on its soil.

kokobj@yna.co.kr
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