OCA defends flying of North Korean flag at Asian Games

HANGZHOU: Olympic Council of Asia chief Raja Randhir Singh today defended the organisation's decision to allow North Korea to fly its flag at the Asian Games despite being banned from doing so over doping violations.

The World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) declared the country's national anti-doping body "non-compliant" in 2021 and slapped it with sanctions.

They included not being able to fly the North Korean flag at any regional, continental or world sports event, excluding the Olympics and Paralympics.

Despite this the North Korean flag was carried by its athletes delegation into the Hangzhou Olympic stadium on Saturday for the Asian Games opening ceremony.

"We are in discussions with them (WADA) and North Korea has written to them as well explaining their position," said Singh, the OCA acting president.

"We are explaining from our side as well.

"At present, the North Korean flag is flying and we will look into it and see what the future says."

Singh added that "everyone should participate and have the opportunity to participate and if there are certain issues which happened through the pandemic, we should consider that and take it into account."

WADA sanctioned North Korea while its already tight borders were shut following the outbreak of Covid, which saw the Asian nation skip the Olympics in Japan.

It was then banned by the International Olympic Committee from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics for failing to take part in Tokyo.

But North Korea recently began slowly reopening and has sent a nearly 200-strong team to Hangzhou, ending its years-long isolation from the global sporting arena. --AFP

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