November 27, 2018 / 3:51 AM / 19 days ago

Olympics: North Korean sports minister allowed into Japan for meetings

Kim Il Guk, North Korea's sports minister and the president of the Olympic Committee of North Korea is greeted by North Korean residents in Japan upon his arrival at Tokyo's Haneda airport in Japan, in this photo taken by Kyodo November 27, 2018. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS

TOKYO (Reuters) - North Korea’s sports minister will be allowed to travel to Japan to attend Olympic meetings in Tokyo this week, the Japanese government said on Tuesday.

North Koreans are banned from entering Japan as part of sanctions imposed for its missile and nuclear tests.

Kim Il Guk, who also serves as the president of the North’s Olympic committee, will travel to Japan to take part in the Association of National Olympic Committees (ANOC) General Assembly on Wednesday and Thursday.

“International sports and the Olympics charter share this notion of no discrimination against any nationalities,” Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at his regular briefing on Tuesday.

“On the basis of that, it is an exception that we have allowed minister Kim Il Guk, who is planning on coming to this week’s General Assembly. We have allowed him to enter the country as an exception.”

This is not the first time Japan has waived the ban in the name of sports.

In February 2017, North Korean athletes and officials were granted permission to enter the country for the Asian Winter Games in Sapporo.

North Korea also plans to attend the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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