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
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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.


Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

Updated 11 December 2018
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Ahmed Barman out to toast Al-Ain success in FIFA Club World Cup

  • Tournament gets under way on Wednesday when Al-Ain take on Team Wellington at home.
  • UAE midfielder sure his side can cause a few shocks.

LONDON: While he is only too aware of the quality opposition they have to face, Al-Ain midfielder Ahmed Barman is backing “The Boss” to scare a few teams in the FIFA Club World Cup.
The tournament gets under way when the UAE outfit face Team Wellington on their home ground in the opener today. Last year saw fellow Arabian Gulf League side Al-Jazira reach the semifinal where they gave Real Madrid a huge fright before narrowly losing 2-1. And inspired by that march to the last four, Barman is looking for Al-Ain to go one better and become the first Emirati side to make the final.
“The FIFA Club World Cup is a global competition coveted by every club,” Barman said. “Al-Ahli, Al-Jazira and Al-Wahda participated in this tournament before and did their part, putting the UAE on the world map. We at Al-Ain hope to reach the semi-final, as Al-Jazira did, or do even better.”
Before any tournament it is only natural to dream of glory and lifting the trophy in front of adoring fans. But the midfielder is not getting too cocky, revealing that despite having home advantage Al-Ain are taking absolutely nothing for granted, starting with Wednesday’s clash against the Kiwis.
“There’s no doubt that we’re aiming to reach the final and face a giant like Real Madrid, but first we have to focus on our opening match against Team Wellington,” the 24-year-old said.
“We need to win to progress from this round and play the subsequent games until we reach the final against Real Madrid and show a standard of play the UAE can be proud of.”
Barman is not anticipating an easy opener.
“Team Wellington are a very good team with considerable ability. They won their local league and the OFC Champions League, which proves they’re powerful.
“So, all our focus is on this opening match. We’re annualizing our opponents to understand their capabilities as we prepare to perform well on the pitch and get positive result.”
The UAE champions did not have the best preparation for their stab at Club World Cup glory, losing 5-2 to Al-Wasl in the UAE President’s Cup at the weekend.
That result, while clearly not ideal, has not bothered the side’s coach.
“We cannot win every game, what is gone is gone, it’s full concentration on the match ahead,” Zoran Mamic said.
“There are no rules that Al-Ain cannot lose games, that’s why I don’t make any drama.”
But while Barman was keen to invoke the memory of Al-Jazira’s march to the last four, his boss was less so, telling his team to focus on the match at hand before getting ahead of themselves.
“We are not here to talk about last year, just as we are not here to talk about the future,” the Croatian said. “We are here to represent the club in the best possible way. We focus on the match at hand and everything will take care of itself.”
Of today’s opponents he added: “We have watched all their games, we know their strengths and where they are not so strong. They are particularly good offensively, they play with fast wingers and a striker who is a good scorer, they play a system that is unusual to us because no teams in the Emirates play with three in the last line. If we do our job we will (have) a good match.”