Australia to bar N. Korea youth soccer team

AFP-Jiji SYDNEY (AFP-Jiji) — The Australian government has decided to bar a North Korean youth soccer team from playing in a tournament in the country in protest at Pyongyang’s nuclear program, public broadcaster SBS has reported.

“The government has decided to not allow the North Korean U-19 soccer team to enter Australia for the Asian Football Confederation U-19 Championship Qualifiers,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop told SBS in a statement.

“Hosting the team would be contrary to the government’s strong opposition to North Korea’s illegal nuclear and missile development programs,” SBS quoted her as saying.

“It would also be inconsistent with our efforts to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

The North Korean youth team was due to play in Australia next month in the Asian Football Confederation championship qualifiers in a group that also included Australia, Hong Kong and the Northern Mariana Islands.

A spokesman for Football Federation Australia told SBS the qualifying fixtures were “now likely to be relocated outside Australia” because the government had refused to grant visas to the North Korean team.Speech

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