(Reuters) – Winter Asian Games organizers are weighing up an application from North Korea to allow the country’s athletes from competing in Sapporo next year as the secretive nation’s citizens are currently banned from entering Japan.
North Korea has filed its registration to compete in the men’s short track speed skating and the men’s and women’s figure skating events, the organizing committee told Kyodo news agency.
Japan banned North Koreans from entering the country earlier this year following a fourth nuclear test and a long-range ballistic missile rocket launch, leaving Games organizers awaiting advice on Pyongyang’s request.
“We’re discussing our response with related organizations, including the Japan Sports Agency,” an organizing committee official told reporters.
Around 2,300 athletes and officials from across the continent will travel to Japan for the eighth edition of the Games to be held from Feb. 19-26.
“We’d like to seek a decision from the government. The number (of athletes) is not large as the number of sports is limited,” the official added.
Despite the ban, Tokyo did allow the North Korean women’s soccer team to play an Olympic qualifier in Osaka in February.
(Reporting by Debanjan Bose in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)