Australia bars North Korea's U-19 football team from entering country citing 'illegal nuclear programmes'

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Australian federal government has blocked the Under-19 men's team of North Korea from entering the country. "Hosting the team would be contrary to the Government's strong opposition to North Korea's illegal nuclear and missile development programmes", Australian foreign affairs minister Julie Bishop told the SBS News yesterday.

The Korean team was scheduled to play a qualification match for Asian Football Confederation championship on November 8 in Shepparton, Victoria. Julia Bishop said, "It would also be inconsistent with our efforts to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on Pyongyang to comply with UN Security Council resolutions."

A Victorian government spokesperson said the match would be rescheduled, and played outside the Australian borders at a "neutral venue". Football Federation Australia's statement said they "respect[ed]" the federal government's decision.

Hong Kong and the Northern Mariana Islands are the other two counties in the same group with North Korea and Australia. In March, a qualification match between Malaysia and North Korea for 2019's Asian Cup was rescheduled after Kim Jong-Nam's death at Kuala Lumpur airport, half-brother of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un. On September 28 the match was postponed — by this time, its third postponement — after the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs barred Malaysians from travelling to North Korea.

Last month, at the UN general assembly, US president Donald Trump said the US "would [...] totally destroy North Korea" if the US had to defend the US and its allies from North Korea. In the revised list of travel bans, Trump banned North Koreans from entering the US.