Koreas to field joint teams in 3 sports at Asian Games

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Seoul, June 28 (IANS) South and North Korea have agreed to field joint teams in three sports and six events at this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia, the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) said on Thursday.

The OCA said the Koreas will compete as one in basketball, dragon boat racing and rowing. The OCA made the announcement following a four-party meeting it hosted involving the two Koreas’ Olympic bodies and the organising committee of the Asian Games in Jakarta on Thursday.

The 18th Asian Games will be co-hosted by Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2.

There will be a unified team in the women’s five-on-five basketball; men’s and women’s dragon boat, a canoe discipline; and lightweight men’s four, lightweight men’s eight and lightweight women’s double sculls events in rowing.

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Basketball will be played at Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex in Jakarta. All canoeing and rowing races will take place at Jakabaring Lake in Palembang.

The OCA had previously said it would support joint Korean participation but insisted there would be no extra places for athletes from either Korea on unified teams. It reiterated that stance on Thursday, saying, “The size of the joint teams will not exceed the athlete quota that applies to all other national Olympic committees (NOCs).”

Otherwise, the OCA welcomed joint Korean participation. The two assembled a joint women’s hockey team at the PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February this year — the first unified Korean team in Olympic history — but they have never competed as one at any Asian Games.

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“This will be an historic Asian Games for the OCA and for the continent because it will be the first time that North Korea and South Korea will form a unified team in certain sports,” said Vinod Kumar Tiwari, the OCA’s director of international and NOC relations.

“They have marched together before in the opening ceremony, and we are delighted that they are extending their joint cooperation further in the spirit of unity and friendship.”

The Koreas have previously had joint teams at world championships for table tennis and youth football. The women’s hockey team at PyeongChang Winter Games was the first joint Korean team at any international multi-sport competition.

–IANS

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