Taekwondo competition moved from Pyongyang

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Taekwondo competition moved from Pyongyang

The International Taekwondo Federation (ITF), mainly led by North Koreans, has relocated the World Championships scheduled for April in Pyongyang to Bulgaria.

Last fall, North Korea banned foreigners from entering the country to prevent Ebola infections.

The ITF was founded in South Korea by Gen. Choi Hong-hi in 1966, but the federation was moved to Canada when Choi was exiled. Chang Ung, a North Korean member of the International Olympic Committee, took over the federation in 2002.

ITF Secretary General Kim Sung-hwan said through Voice of America on Wednesday that the federation relocated those events as Pyongyang isn’t expected to lift its ban on foreigners from entering North Korea anytime soon.

The ban was announced in October.

The North Korea-led organization decided to hold the World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, and is reportedly considering holding its 60th anniversary ceremony there, too. The city was the venue for the 18th ITF World Championships in 2013.

Chairman Kim Kyong-ho of the Joseon Taekwondo Committee, the North’s local organization, said he regretted the decision.

The ban may also affect the Pyongyang Marathon scheduled for April 12. North Korea’s Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports indicated earlier that it would admit foreign participants for the race.

In addition to the ban, the regime has isolated travelers from West Africa at accommodations in Anju, South Pyongan Province, and Sinuiju, North Pyongan Province, for three weeks.

The Ministry of Unification and Ministry of Health and Welfare of South Korea also set up heat detectors at the entrance of Kaesong Industrial Complex at the request of the North.

BY JEONG WON-YEOB AND KIM BONG-MOON [bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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