N.Korea to Boycott Summer Universiade in Gwangju

      June 23, 2015 10:50

      North Korea has told the hosts of the upcoming Summer Universiade in Gwangju that it will boycott the event for political reasons, organizers said Monday.

      In an e-mail to the organizing committee, North Korea said it is canceling plans to send athletes due to the opening of the Seoul office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on Tuesday, which will monitor and document human rights abuses in the North.

      North Korea did not mention the outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome in South Korea as a probable reason. The North previously missed the registration deadline.

      The Unification Ministry and Universiade organizers are trying to confirm the authenticity of the e-mail.

      Lee Soo-seok of the Institute for National Security Strategy said, "It appears that North Korea felt uncomfortable taking part in a South Korean event at a time when human rights groups are stepping up efforts to bring Kim Jong-un before the International Criminal Court, while the UNHCR opens an office in Seoul."

      "Also, sending a delegation of 100 athletes and officials is not cheap and the North probably felt it has nothing to gain either politically or economically from taking part in the competition," he added.

      Earlier this year, the North announced it would send 75 athletes and 33 sports officials to Gwangju. Its withdrawal will force organizers to repeat the draw for the women's football and handball competitions.

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