Olympic-funded North Korea team wins at table tennis worlds


LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) – A North Korea women’s table tennis team funded by the International Olympic Committee scored an unexpected win to open the world championships in Sweden.

The IOC says it paid the costs for 12 men and women from North Korea to compete at the week-long team worlds in Sweden.

The travel and accommodation funding, complying with the restrictions of United Nations sanctions against North Korea, is to help the team qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the IOC says.

In their opening group game on Sunday of a 24-team competition, the 19th-seeded North Korean women beat third-seeded Taiwan 3-2.

North Korea’s men play in a six-nation group including China and Russia.

The IOC has been supporting North Korean athletes since 2014, ahead of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in neighboring South Korea.