SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korean organizers of this year’s Asian Games in Incheon have asked the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for help in getting North Korea to take part in the multi-sports event.
The news comes amid heightened tension on the Korean peninsula after the North fired more than 100 artillery rounds into South Korean waters as part of a drill on Monday, prompting the South to fire back.
The North has ratcheted up its rhetoric in recent weeks and conducted a series of missile launches, mostly short-range, in response to what it sees as the threat posed by a series of joint U.S.-South Korean military drills that are held annually.
Asian Games organizers said in a statement that Kim Young-soo, president of the organizing committee, had made the request to IOC President Thomas Bach at a meeting in Kuwait on Monday.
Bach responded by saying that the IOC would do all it could to help the South Korean organizers. He also said he would attend the September 19 to October 4 Asian Games.
“Every competition shines when all member countries participate in it and the Incheon Asian Games is no exception,” said Bach. “The IOC will spare no effort to get North Korea come to Incheon.”
North Korea said in January it would send men’s and women’s soccer teams to compete at the Asian Games.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Pyongyang officials told reporters a month later that the North would compete in all the events at the Asian Games.
North Korea sent a delegation of almost 200 athletes and 100 cheerleaders to the Busan Asian Games in South Korea in 2002.
Reporting by Narae Kim, Writing by Peter Rutherford; Editing by Sudipto Ganguly