North Korean shooters in tears after first gold of Games

HANGZHOU: Three North Korean shooters cried their eyes out on the podium after winning the country's first gold medal of the Hangzhou Asian Games today.

The trio saluted and gradually dissolved into floods of tears as the red, white and blue North Korean flag was raised in Hangzhou – in contravention of World Anti-Doping Agency rules.

It was North Korea's first gold medal of the Games and first in major international competition since the Covid pandemic, having skipped the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 and then been barred from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

Paek Ok Sim, Pang Myong Hyang and Ri Ji Ye triumphed in the 10m running target women's team competition, ahead of Kazakhstan and Indonesia.

Another gold soon rolled in for North Korea, this time for gymnast An Chang Ok in the women's vault. Compatriot Kim Son Hyang took silver.

It took North Korea's overall tally in Hangzhou to 11 medals.

North Korea's flag was brandished at the opening ceremony and in medal ceremonies at the Games, despite supposedly 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.

On Sunday, Olympic Council of Asia chief Raja Randhir Singh defended the organisation's decision to allow North Korea to fly its flag.

"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." — AFP

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