Gwangju (South Korea) : The South Korean organising committee of next year's world Swimming Championships said on Friday it'll push for North Korea's participation in the biennial event.
Gwangju, some 330 km south of Seoul, will host the FINA World Championships from July 12 to 28 next year. It will be the 18th edition of the world swimming body's signature event and the first to take place in South Korea, reports Yonhap News Agency.
In a press conference detailing Gwangju's preparations, Cho Young-teck, secretary-general of the organizing committee, said Gwangju plans to "consult with relevant authorities to ensure North Korean athletes' participation" in the competition.
The press conference took place on the day of the third inter-Korean summit.
"We're trying to ensure that efforts for peace on the Korean Peninsula, made at the inter-Korean summit and the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, will bear fruits at the 2019 FINA World Championships," Cho said.
"We'll work with all stakeholders to bring North Korean athletes to next year's test event and help them train here in Gwangju, Cho added.
Cho said he had asked the South Korean government and FINA to help bring North Korean athletes across the border.
"We haven't heard any response from North Korean sports officials," Cho said. "But in light of the inter-Korean summit held today, I think we can be hopeful of North Koreans' participation in our competition."
Cho also said while the primary goal is to have North Korean swimmers take part, forming a joint Korean squad could also be an option.
"We'll leave all the possibilities open in our discussions," Cho added.