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Japan to OK entry of N. Korean athletes for Asian Winter Games

The Japanese government decided to allow North Korean athletes and officials to enter the country to take part in the 2017 Sapporo Asian Winter Games in northern Japan later this month despite Japan's ongoing entry ban on North Korean citizens, government sources said Sunday.

As in the past, Tokyo will treat the athletes as an exception to its punitive measure taken as part of its sanctions in response to Pyongyang's nuclear tests and rocket launches.

Japan last year allowed entry of the North Korean women's soccer team for the final Asian qualifying round, which was held in Osaka, for the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games. (PNA/Kyodo) LOR/SSC