Weightlifting is hugely popular in North Korea but the country has been unsuccessful in its bid to host the 2017 World Junior Championships ©Getty Images

North Korea has failed in its bid to stage a global sports event for the first time since 1979 - but it will try again.

The International Weightlifting Federation (IWF) had five bids for the 2017 World Junior Championships, and was delighted that one of them came from the People’s Republic of Korea, the world’s most reclusive country.

The Koreans did not win, as the IWF awarded the event to Japan ahead of North Korea, Albania, Nepal and Peru.

As Tokyo is the venue for the 2020 Olympic Games, the IWF felt it wise to give the Japanese a chance to host a global weightlifting event in the build-up to those Games.

“But it was great to see North Korea bidding to host a junior world championship,” said Attila Adamfi, director general of the Budapest-based IWF, whose Executive Board met in the Peruvian capital of Lima ahead of the 2015 Youth World Championships.

North Korea last hosted a global event when, in 1979, they welcomed every nation except two to the World Table Tennis Championships.

They would not admit their neighbours, South Korea, or Israel.

At the time the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) accepted the ban.

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Kim Un-ju was one of four North Korean weightlifters to claim gold at last year's Asian Games in Incheon ©Getty Images

In recent years weightlifting has become, by some distance, the number one sport in North Korea.

Their rivalry with China has been one of the features of the sport in the Olympics, the Asian Games and the annual World Championships.

“Weightlifting is their most successful sport,” said Adamfi.

“They have the infrastructure and the sport-specific know-how to host a World Championship at youth or junior level.”

The seniors event is not yet realistic for a number of reasons, chief among them the demand for accommodation and the technical requirements of broadcasters.

The IWF have visisted Pyongyang, the capital, and have been impressed.

“They have great facilities and a great venue that seats about 10,000,” said Adamfi last November, when insidethegames revealed that the North Koreans wanted to welcome all nations - including South Korea this time - to a global sporting event.

“There are enormous challenges to overcome, but they could make a winning bid within five years, maybe sooner.

"It would be good for our sport, and for all sport, if it happened.”