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Sports diplomacy in North Korea
By Reuters -
Players of North Korea (L) and South Korea enter the field before their friendly soccer match, held by labor organizations of North Korea and South Korea, at the May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by Kyodo October 29, 2015. REUTERS/Kyodo 
Participants run in the International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) 26th Mangyongdae Prize Marathon, held in conjunction with celebrations for the 101st birth anniversary of North Korean founder Kim Il-Sung, in Pyongyang, in this photo distributed April 14, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA 
Manuel Ott (R) of Philippines and Jon Kwang-ik of North Korea jump for the ball during their team's preliminary 2018 World Cup and 2019 AFC Asian Cup qualifying soccer match at the Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang October 8, 2015. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj 
North Koreans play ice hockey in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated handout picture. A Canadian man behind a series of trips to North Korea by Dennis Rodman is organizing an ice hockey tournament that may draw former National Hockey League (NHL) players to the isolated country. "The seed was planted for this hockey exchange in 2005 when I saw my first DPRK hockey game while living in Pyongyang," Michael Spavor said in a release. "A Canadian friend and I thought that this would be a great way to build stronger relationships between Canada and the DPRK." REUTERS/Michael Spavor/Handout via Reuters 
North Korean military personnel escort the Olympic flame in Pyongyang April 28, 2008. REUTERS/Kyodo 
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and former NBA basketball player Dennis Rodman hug in Pyongyang in this undated picture released March 1, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA 
North Korean children walk past a standing signboard depicting ice hockey in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated handout picture. A Canadian man behind a series of trips to North Korea by basketball hall of farmer Dennis Rodman is organizing an ice hockey tournament that may draw former National Hockey League (NHL) players to the isolated country. The tournament, scheduled for March 7-11 in the capital, Pyongyang, will raise money for sporting equipment for disabled North Korean athletes, said Michael Spavor, who runs the Paektu Cultural Exchange, which promotes engagement with North Korea. He said some former NHL players had expressed interest in participating but declined to identify them. Some Canadians were among the non-professionals who would take part, said Spavor, who is based in China. REUTERS/Michael Spavor/Handout via Reuters
North Koreans watch professional wrestling exhibition matches hosted by former pro-wrestler turned Japanese politician Antonio Inoki in Pyongyang, August 30, 2014. American rapper Pras Michel, who topped the charts in the 1990s with his band "The Fugees", and is a friend of President Barack Obama, attended a wrestling match hosted by Inoki during a week-long trip of the country. The match featured former NFL linebacker Bob Sapp and martial arts displays from Korean and American fighters. REUTERS/Kyodo 
Dennis Rodman takes part in a practice session with North Korean basketball players and other former NBA stars in Pyongyang, January 7, 2014. REUTERS/Kyodo 
Former pro-wrestler turned Japanese politician Antonio Inoki (front 3rd L), former NFL linebacker Bob Sapp (rear L) and several professional wrestlers react during a news conference at a hotel in Pyongyang, August 28, 2014. REUTERS/Kyodo 
Dennis Rodman takes part in a practice session with North Korean basketball players and other former NBA stars in Pyongyang, January 7, 2014. REUTERS/Kyodo 
Dennis Rodman (2nd R, front) and his company visit the Tower of Juche Idea in Pyongyang in this picture released March 1, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA 
Alicia Ashley of the U.S. (R) walks past North Korean soldiers before her super-flyweight division match of the World Boxing Council for Females (WBCF) against North Korean defending champion Ryu Myung-ok (not in picture) in Pyongyang October 21, 2005. Ryu succeed in defending her championship title with an unanimous decision at the 10th round title match. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
Participants cycle during the 2013 Nordic Ways Vatternrundan China-DPRK international cycling tourism festival in Rason, in this photo released September 23, 2013. Dozens of European cyclists rolled into the North Korean port town of Rajin for the last leg of a rare two-stage race from China to North Korea. Clad in skin-tight shiny outfits and accompanied by a fleet of support cars, the 47 cyclists from Sweden, Germany and more than 10 other countries rode from China to the Wonjong border crossing to take on the 50-km (31-mile) road into Rajin. Rajin is one of two towns that make up the Rajin-Songbon, or Rason, special economic zone in the northeast corner of North Korea. REUTERS/KCNA 
South Korean weightlifter Lee Young-gyun (L) stands as compatriot Kim Woo-sik (C) receives his award on the podium during their medal ceremony as part of the Asian Cup and Interclub Weightlifting Championship in Pyongyang, September 14, 2013. History unfolded around two junior South Korean weightlifters in Pyongyang after their national anthem was played for the first time on North Korean soil. The North's official KCNA news agency reported that Kim Woo-sik and Lee Young-gyun were placed first and second in the Interclub Junior Men's 85kg category. They were the only lifters in that division. REUTERS/KRT via Reuters TV 
Supporters of Japan's national soccer team take a sightseeing tour of Pyongyang before the 2014 World Cup qualifying match against North Korea, in Pyongyang November 15, 2011. REUTERS/Kyodo 
Dennis Rodman fights for the ball during an international exhibition basketball match between the U.S. and North Korea in Pyongyang, in this photo released January 8, 2014. Rodman led an auditorium of North Koreans in singing "Happy Birthday" to their leader. REUTERS/Kyodo 
Participants applaud during a ceremony at the 2013 Nordic Ways Vatternrundan China-DPRK international cycling tourism festival in Rason, in this photo released September 23, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA 
Kim Jong-Un (C), his wife Ri Sol-Ju (L) and Dennis Rodman clap during an exhibition basketball game in Pyongyang in this picture released March 1, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA 
Players and coaches of Middlesbrough FC Ladies pose upon their arrival at the airport in Pyongyang September 18, 2010. The soccer team arrived in Pyongyang to play friendly matches on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the opening of diplomatic ties between North Korea and Britain, KCNA reported. North Korea and Middlesbrough have been inexorably linked since 1966 when the North Koreans famously beat Italy during the World Cup finals at the club's former Ayresome Park stadium. REUTERS/KCNA 
North Korea's Kim Kwang-ok (R), champion of the bantam division of the World Boxing Council for Females (WBCF), competes with Mexico's challenger Yazmin Rivas at the championship title match in Pyongyang October 21, 2005. Kim succeeded in defending her championship title with an unanimous decision at the 10th round title match. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon 
Athletes attend a torch-lighting ceremony for the 5th International Martial Arts Games on Chongchun Street in Pyongyang April 3, 2013. REUTERS/KCNA 
Kim Jong Un watches a basketball game between former U.S. NBA basketball players and North Korean players of the Hwaebul team of the DPRK with Dennis Rodman at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium in this photo released January 9, 2014. REUTERS/KCNA