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.


German club releases Turkish player over Instagram post

Updated 52 min 31 sec ago

German club releases Turkish player over Instagram post

  • Sahin’s existing contract will remain valid, but St. Pauli has given him permission to train and play for other clubs
  • Sahin, who joined the German team from Istanbul Basaksehir in 2016, is reportedly back in Turkey

HAMBURG, Germany: Turkish midfielder Cenk Sahin has been released by German soccer club St. Pauli following his Instagram post in support of his country’s invasion of Kurdish-held regions in northern Syria.
The second-division club said on Monday that “Sahin has been released from his training and playing duties with immediate effect. The prime factors in reaching the decisions were his repeated disregard for the club’s values and the need to protect the player.”
Sahin on Friday wrote on Instagram: “We’re on the side of our heroic military and armies. Our prayers are with you!“
It led to calls from St. Pauli fans for the player to be sacked, and messages of support for the Kurds.
The Hamburg-based club said Monday it conducted an internal review amid further talks between club officials and the player.
“After numerous discussions with fans, members and friends whose roots lie in Turkey, it has become clear to us that we cannot and should not attempt to gauge nuances in perceptions and attitudes from other cultural backgrounds in detail,” St. Pauli said. “That we reject acts of war is not open to doubt or discussion, however. These acts, and the expression of solidarity with them, run counter to the values of the club.”
Sahin’s existing contract will remain valid, but St. Pauli has given him permission to train and play for other clubs. Sahin, who joined the German team from Istanbul Basaksehir in 2016, is reportedly back in Turkey. A switch can only be completed in the winter transfer window.