N Korea to send athletes for Universiade in South

N Korea to send athletes for Universiade in South
Statues of atheletes line a dried-up fountain in Pyongyang.

SEOUL - North Korea has promised to send athletes for the World University Games to be held in South Korea's southern city of Gwangju in July, organisers said Thursday.

Organised by the International University Sports Federation (FISU), the Universiade is an international multi-sport event for university athletes and often serves as a stage where future Olympic stars can be found.

The Gwangju Universiade organising committee said North Korea has offered to dispatch 75 athletes and 33 officials for the event, scheduled from July 3 to 14.

"We've received North Korea's official application through the FISU, and we hope its participation in this year's Universiade will help the two Koreas promote exchanges," Yang Dong-Moon, a committee official, told AFP.

For this year's Universiade, some 20,000 athletes and staffers from 170 countries will come to Gwangju and compete in 13 compulsory and eight optional sports.

"We hope North Korea will send a cheering squad together with its athletes for the Universiade," Moon said.

North Korean took part in the Asian Games hosted by the South Korean city of Incheon last year and took 11 gold medals, 11 silver and 14 bronze in its best Asian Games performance since 1990.

Initially, the North had offered to send hundreds of cheerleaders to accompany its athletes for Asia's biggest sporting event, but retracted its decision later.

The cheerleaders have taken part in three previous international sporting events in the South and proved a major ticket draw each time.

Because the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a ceasefire rather than a treaty, the two Koreas remain technically at war.

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