Sports News

Koreas to field joint teams in three Asian Games sports

JAKARTA (Reuters) - North and South Korea will field joint teams in six events across three sports at this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia, the organizers said on Thursday, in a further sign of improving relations between the neighbors.

FILE PHOTO - Workers take their picture next to countdown clock as Indonesia marks the one year countdown before hosting the 2018 Asain Games in Jakarta, Indonesia August 18, 2017. REUTERS/Darren Whiteside

The National Olympic Committees of the two Koreas met with the Olympic Council of Asia’s (OCA) Director of International and NOC Relations Vinod Kumar Tiwari to finalize details for their joint participation in the Games in Jakarta and Palembang.

The OCA confirmed the two nations will compete as a unified team in six events, including women’s basketball and men’s and women’s dragon boat racing, which is one of the canoe disciplines.

They will also will also compete together in three rowing events - lightweight men’s four, lightweight men’s eight and lightweight women’s double sculls.

Sjafrie Sjamsoeddin, deputy chairman of the Indonesia Asian Games Organising Committee (INASGOC), described the meeting as “very enthusiastic, based on the feelings of togetherness of the two Korean representatives.”

It was also decided that the joint delegation, represented by 200 athletes, will march together under a unified flag in the opening ceremony, with 100 from each side.

In February, North and South Korea fielded a combined women’s ice hockey team at the Pyeongchang Winter Games and marched together at the opening ceremony.

“The conclusion of the meeting was for the reunification of the two Koreas in the Asian Games (and) increased unification in sports namely basketball, canoeing, and rowing,” Sjamsoeddin told a news conference.

“For the opening ceremony together, God willing, (the joint team) will be called Korea. This is unification. It’s good if they join together.”

The OCA said the size of joint teams will not exceed the athlete quota that applies to all the other National Olympic Committees.

The unification comes amid warming ties between the two Koreas as relations between Pyongyang and Washington have also improved after tension last year over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

The 18th Asian Games will be held from Aug. 18 to Sept. 2.

Reporting by Jessica Damiana in Jakarta; Writing by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Amlan Chakraborty