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North Korean Women’s Soccer Team Arrives in Japan for Olympic Qualifiers Amid Entry Restrictions

The 2nd final qualifying round for the 2024 Paris Olympics on 28th
It was the first visit to Japan by North Korean soccer team since 2017
Exceptions are made for sports competitions about the entry forbiddance on North Korean nationalities

'입국불허 예외'로 北 여자축구대표팀 日방문
The North Korean women’s soccer team, dressed in red coats, enters Japan through Tokyo Haneda Airport on the 25th. /Yonhap News

The North Korean women’s soccer team arrived in Japan through Tokyo Haneda Airport on the 25th to compete in the final qualifying round for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

According to Japan’s public media organization NHK on the 26th, the North Korean delegation arrived on the evening of the 25th, dressed in red coats and holding small artificial flowers. In the arrival lobby, they received a warm welcome from officials of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Cheongryeon). Shin Yong Chol, the Secretary-General of the North Korean Football Association, who received a bouquet from the welcoming crowd dressed in traditional Korean attire, expressed his gratitude for the enthusiastic welcome from his fellow citizens and promised to work hard to meet their expectations.

The North Korean team arrived in Japan around 10 p.m. on the same day after playing the first leg against Japan in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on the 24th and stopping in Qatar. The result of the first leg was a 0-0 draw. The final Olympic qualifier was initially scheduled to be held in a home-and-away format, with the first leg to be held at Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang. However, the venue was changed to Saudi Arabia, a neutral location, after the Japan Football Association pointed out that there were no flights to Pyongyang and there were uncertainties in the operation of the match.

'입국불허 예외'로 北 여자축구대표팀 日방문
Women of the General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Cheongryeon), dressed in traditional Korean attire, present a bouquet to the arriving officials of the North Korean women’s soccer team at Tokyo Haneda Airport on the 25th. /Yonhap News

The Japanese government has imposed independent sanctions on North Korea due to nuclear and missile provocations. Therefore, in principle, people of North Korean nationality are prohibited from entering Japan. However, exceptions are made for international sports competitions, allowing athletes to visit Japan.

According to NHK, this is the first time the North Korean soccer team has visited Japan since the East Asian Championship in December 2017. If you include other sports, it is the first time in five years since the International Skating Union (ISU) World Figure Skating Championships in March 2019.

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