North Korean athletes arrive in the South for Paralympics

North Korean athletes arrive to participate in the 2018 Pyeongchang Paralympic Games at the Korean-transit office near the Demilitarized Zone in Paju on March 7, 2018. (Ahn Young-joon/POOL/AFP)
Updated 07 March 2018

North Korean athletes arrive in the South for Paralympics

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea: North Korean athletes and delegates arrived in the South Wednesday to take part in the Winter Paralympics, as part of an Olympics-driven detente between the two neighbors.
Two competitors — both of them taking part in cross-country skiing — along with four observer athletes and 18 officials crossed the land border north of Seoul before heading for the venues.
Their journey came a day after Seoul announced plans to hold a historic summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong Un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in — the latest fruit of their Olympics-fueled diplomacy.
Moon sought to use the February 9-25 Pyeongchang Winter Games to try to broker dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang in a bid to ease the nuclear standoff between them.
The North mounted a charm offensive by sending hundreds of cheerleaders and Kim’s sister to the opening ceremony of the Games, during which athletes from the two Koreas marched together under a neutral “unification flag.”
Seoul responded by sending Moon’s special envoys — including his spy chief — to Pyongyang this week, where leader Kim told them he was willing to discuss denuclearization with the US.
The North Korean athletes — Kim Jong Hyon and Ma Yu Chol — may march with their counterparts from the South during Friday’s opening ceremony for the Paralympics, which run until March 18.
The pair made their international debuts in a tournament in January in Oberried, Germany.
It is the first time the North, which has often faced criticism for its cruel treatment of disabled people, has taken part in the Winter Paralympics.
Pyongyang had previously sent athletes to the 2012 Summer Paralympics in London and the 2016 edition of the games in Rio.
Craig Spence, a spokesman for the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), said the athletes had been given “bipartite” slots for the games, meaning they had not been able to meet the full qualification criteria.
“They have bipartite invitations from us due to their circumstances. They have not been traveling around the world and have not been able to take part in all the qualifying events,” he told AFP.


Australia can win basketball World Cup, says USA coach

Updated 22 August 2019

Australia can win basketball World Cup, says USA coach

MELBOURNE: United States coach Gregg Popovich has tipped Australia as a key contender at the upcoming basketball World Cup in China, saying they have the ability to win the tournament.
The veteran San Antonio Spurs mastermind offered the praise ahead of two warm-up games between the nations in Melbourne this week.
“They are one of the teams that can win the whole thing, without a doubt,” Popovich said. “I’m not saying that because I’m here (in Melbourne). It’s just a fact.”
The world number one Americans will try to win a third consecutive World Cup next month with a line-up that lacks many of their NBA superstars, with the likes of James Harden, Anthony Davis and Kawhi Leonard among notable absentees.
But they boast top young talent and will use the games in Australia to refine their identity.
They arrived in Melbourne on the back of a 90-81 victory over second-ranked Spain in Anaheim, California, and will play the Boomers later Thursday, then again Saturday before a final warm-up against Canada in Sydney on August 26.
In contrast to the five-time World Cup winners, Australia have never won a medal. But Popovich thinks this could be their year.
“They’ve been close for several years, and they are hungry. They are talented. Coach (Andrej) Lemanis does a good job, and they are a team,” he said on the USA basketball website.
“They are together. They know what they are doing. They execute really well, so that’s what it takes. They have the toughness and physicality to go with it.
“I think they are one of the top contenders without a doubt.”
While Australia boosts a handful of NBA stars, including Utah Jazz’s Joe Ingle and Patty Mills of the San Antonio Spurs, they suffered a setback on Monday when Jonah Bolden joined his teammate Ben Simmons in pulling out of the World Cup.
Other Australian NBA standouts not playing include Thon Maker (NBA commitments), Ryan Broekhoff (birth of his child) and Dante Exum (injury).