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  • #ICYMI -- Koreas Agree to Join at Asiad; Visa Problems for Cuban Handball; Catalan Crisis to Impact Tarragona


    Basketball diplomacy is coming to Pyongyang as a warm up to sports diplomacy at the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, Indonesia. 

    Pictures released from the June 18 inter-Korean meetings (Ministry of Unification)
    The latest round of inter-Korean talks in the village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone focused on preparations for the upcoming Asiad along with other projects for cooperation in the border region.

    South Korea’s Unification Ministry confirmed a basketball game on July 4 in Pyongyang, with the pledge for a game in Seoul at a future date. In addition, the two Koreas agreed to march under the unification flag at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the Asian Games, which run from August 18 to September 2.

    The decision on which teams will feature both North and South Korean athletes in Jakarta and Palembang has not been made. The Unification Ministry confirmed the anthem played should a team win will be the traditional Korean song “Arirang,” and the team would compete under the acronym COR. 

    Additional talks are needed to sort out the logistics of forming joint teams. In the past, the Olympic Council of Asia hosted talks between the North and South Korean National Olympic Committees and said combined teams could be formed, but no additional qualifying spots would be granted. 

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    Visa Problems Bar Cuba from Greenland Handball Championship

    International Handball Federation (IHF) lamented the absence of Cuba at the Pan American Tournament that is taking place in Nuuk, Greenland.

    Match during Pan American tournament (IHF)
    "It is very regrettable that Cuba has not been able to obtain its visas despite having the full support of the Organizing Committee and other parties," said the president of the IHF, Hassan Moustafa, in an exclusive statement to Around The Rings.

    Moustafa emphasized that "we certainly would have liked" to see Cuba in the Men's Continental Championship.

    The President of IHF recalled that 10 other American teams "managed to meet all the entry requirements" after the host was confirmed as host on February 8, 2018. "

    Moustafa said that from that moment the classified countries had "more than four months until the start of the competition" to complete the visa process. 

    The tournament, which began June 16, awards three places for the World Championship in Germany and Denmark in January 2019. Top teams will also qualify for the 2019 Pan Am Games in Lima.

    But Cuba, one of the 12 teams supposed to compete in Greenland, did not make the charter flight from Panama. The flight was arranged to allow travel directly to Greenland, avoiding a stop in Europe.

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    Catalan Crisis Intertwined With Tarragona Opening

    Internal political squabbles in Spain are likely to dominate the start of the 2018 Mediterranean Games.

    Catalonia has been embroiled in a political crisis since last October (Wikimedia Commons)
    Tarragona, Spain will welcome more than 3,600 athletes from 26 countries in the Mediterranean region for the 18th edition of the Games. It will be the third time Spain hosts the multi-sport event, and the first since 2005. Spain reportedly spent $113.8 million to stage the Games.

    Spanish King Felipe VI is anticipated to open the Games, but his presence has reopened political wounds in the region. Tarragona is the seventh largest city in Catalonia and is just over 50 miles south of Barcelona on the coast.

    Opening the Tarragona Games would be the first visit by King Felipe to Catalonia since police crackdowns on a referendum attempt by the province last October. The referendum had been declared illegal by the Spanish state, but Catalan officials went ahead with the vote. The day of voting was marred by police crackdowns, some of which turned violent.

    Catalonia’s President Carles Puigdemont was removed from office by the Spanish government following the province’s declaration of independence as a result of the referendum. Puigdemont was forced into exile after Spain issued an arrest warrant for him. Following regional elections last December mandated by Spain, secessionists retained a slim majority in Catalonia’s government.

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