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Japan to consider allowing N. Korean athletes’ entry to Olympics

TOKYO — Japan’s Olympic minister said Wednesday the government will review whether to grant North Korean athletes’ entry to the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2020 as an exception to Japan’s sanctions against North Korea.


“The Olympics and Paralympics is the world’s largest peace event, and it is desirable to have as many participants as possible,” Olympic minister Yoshitaka Sakurada said during a lower house session.


He said the move “requires the understanding of all quarters” and he will work with ministries and agencies involved to carefully deal with the matter.


Japan has banned entry by all North Korean nationals following North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests. Bilateral relations are strained also over the North’s past abductions of Japanese citizens.


Sakurada’s remarks came a day after the game’s organizing committee said it has finally given North Korea the ID and password necessary to access the private internet network used by games organizers and National Olympic Committees to share information on participation after having withheld them.


“The North Korean NOC had been unable to use the special website due to technical problems, but we were able to resolve the problems,” Sakurada said, referring to the North’s National Olympic Committee.


A negotiator for the North Korean body has said it had been requesting issuance since around last September.


The body called the incident a “violation of the spirit of the Olympic Charter” and said it was considering making an official complaint to the International Olympic Committee.

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