North Korea retracts decision to send cheerleading squad to Incheon Asian GamesUpdated: 2014-08-29 16:26:33 KST
Laying the blame at Seoul's feet for its concerns over the cheering team, the Vice Chairman of North Korea's National Olympic Committee officially announced on Thursday that Pyongyang was taking back its decision to send a cheerleading squad to the upcoming Asian Games.
"The South expressed concern over our sending of the cheerleading squad and they raised issues so we decided not to send them for the 17th Asian Games."
He added the committee's decision was conveyed to South Korea when the two sides met last week for working level talks to discuss this very issue.
This unexpected development comes after weeks of tense negotiations over Pyongyang's decision to send a 350-member cheerleading squad, which would have been more than twice the size of North Korea's contingent of athletes.
While Pyongyang kept saying the move was to promote good will, the two Koreas have been at odds over who would have paid for the group during their stay in South Korea.
Despite the move, North Korea says its athletes will participate in the games.
The latest turn of events goes against expectations of a more conciliatory attitude from North Korea, following the end of the joint military drills between South Korea and the United States this week.
"In the short term, it's inevitable inter-Korean ties will get worse. But if the Koreas fail to improve relations, they will feel pressure from inside and outside of the country. So in the long run, there's a high chance the two will begin dialogue."
The South Korean government did not comment directly on North Korea's announcement,.. only confirming that it was informed.
Officials added that they will continue to take all steps necessary to make sure the North Korean team can participate in the Asian Games, which kick off on September 19th in Incheon.
Yoo Li-an, Arirang News.
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We want to see the cheer squad. Let's see the cheer squad. Send the cheer squad.