Head of the Organising Committee for the 2019 International Swimming Federation (FINA) World Aquatics Championships in Gwangju in South Korea has said work is being done to help ensure North Korean athletes will compete at next year’s event.
Yoon Jang-hyun, also the Mayor of Gwangju, was speaking at an international media day held here, focusing on the 18th edition of the biennial event.
A 22-strong team from North Korea is participating at the Winter Olympic Games, due to open in Pyeongchang tomorrow, and will march alongside South Korea under the Unification flag at the Opening Ceremony.
"We have the Olympics coming up and prior to this, Korea was known as a dangerous place due to the war that might come up," Yoon told insidethegames.
"With their [North Korea's] participation [at Pyeongchang 2018], we believe a peaceful Olympics is happening and we hope that mood will follow at the World Championships.
"To do this, we are also looking to bringing North Korea into participation at the World Championships and hopefully this will work out.
"I am trying to work very hard to do that through the different channels I have.
"I’ve already opened a channel with North Korea."
The slogan for the 2019 World Aquatics Championships is "Dive into Peace", which Cho Young-Teck, vice-president and secretary general of Gwangju 2019, believes is in keeping with the desire to have North Korean athletes competing.
"We take it very seriously and it is very important to us," he told insidethegames.
"Korea is a country divided and it will improve the unity of the Peninsula.
"Therefore, the Organising Committee will do its best to make it happen."
North Korea won two medals at last year's World Aquatics Championships in Budapest.
Kim Mi-rae claimed silver in the women's 10 metres synchronised platform event, alongside Kim Kuk-hyang, and bronze in the mixed 10m synchronised platform event, when competing with Hyon Il-myong.
At Kazan in 2015, Kim Kuk-hyang made history by winning North Korea’s first-ever World Aquatics Championships gold medal with success in the women's 10m platform event.
The 2019 edition of the World Aquatics Championships is due to take place from July 12 to 28.