North Korea to join first Paralympics in London

Wed May 9, 2012 11:38am BST

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(Reuters) - North Korea will make their first appearance at the Paralympic Games in London this year, pro-North media said on Wednesday.

The secretive communist nation sent Paralympic athletes to Beijing for training last week, according to the Tokyo-based Chosun Sinbo newspaper.

The paper, viewed as a mouthpiece for the Pyongyang government, said the athletes will compete in table tennis, swimming and athletics among other sports in London.

The Paralympics take place from August 29 to September 9 after the Olympic Games.

North Korea won provisional membership of the International Paralympic Committee in March, the Korea Sports Association (KSA), in South Korea said.

"This is the first time North Korea has won the right to participate," a KSA official told South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

A country's previous participation in international competition helps its case in qualifying for the Paralympics, according to the Chosun Sinbo.

"(North Korean) athletes will gain that qualification through this trip to China," it said.

North Korea frequently competes in both Summer and Winter Olympic Games. The country has so far competed in eight Summer Games and won 10 gold among a total of 41 medals.

The North will also take part at London Olympics from July 27 to August 12, in women's football, weightlifting, the marathon, wrestling, table tennis, archery and shooting.

The country has also indicated they could send athletes to compete in other sports such as boxing, judo and diving.

(Reporting by Alastair Himmer; Editing by Patrick Johnston)

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