Table tennis stars from South Korea and Israel are unlikely to take part in the World Championships this year.
MV Sign reading "Ecole du Bosson" with building in background.
MV ZOOM INTO LV Korean table tennis team playing friendly football match against local players with spectators watching. (3 SHOTS)
MV Friendly match continues with spectators watching from sides of field. (3 SHOTS)
MV Koreans and local players leave field after match.
In a statement on Saturday, the President of the South Korean table Tennis Association, Chae Yeong Cheol, called for 'punitive measures' to be taken against North Korea by the International Table Tennis Federation. He has accused the North Korean Table Tennis Association of 'unjust and outrageous action'. If the team returns to South Korea, it will have made a fruitless eighteen thousand mile (thirty thousand kilometre) trip in an effort to bridge the gap between the two territories.
SPORT: TABLE TENNIS
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Background: Table tennis stars from South Korea and Israel are unlikely to take part in the World Championships this year. The event is due to begin in Pyongyang, in North Korea, on Wednesday (25 April). But, on Sunday (22 April), the national teams from South Korea and Israel were still without visas. The South Korean delegation and a three-man Israeli party arrived in Switzerland last week hoping to join more than twenty-five teams flying to North Korea on special charter flights.
While diplomats and officials in Geneva argued over the visas on Friday (20 April), members of the South Korean team exercised at a local sporting club. But they avoided table tennis -- settling for the less sensitive game of soccer.
The North Koreans have refused to issue visas to the South Korean players unless they join a unified North-South team. And a North Korean diplomat says several Arab countries have asked him not to allow Israel to take part. Other national teams competing in the world championships left Geneva on chartered planes on Saturday (21 April). But the South Koreans were not on any of the flights. South Korean officials say the team has no choice but to fly back home. This will mean the failure of an attempt to bridge the hundred and forty mile (240 kilometre) gap......between the capitals of North and South Korea.