North Korea’s athletes arrived at the opening ceremony of the Hangzhou Asian Games with an artificial flag, marking the country’s return to sports after a five-year absence.
However, the use of an artificial flag at the Games is a controversial move.
North Korea has been banned from flying its flag at international competitions due to doping allegations.
Nevertheless, North Korea flew an artificial flag at the opening ceremony of the Asian Games at the Hangzhou Olympic Sports Center Stadium in Hangzhou, China, on March 23.
North Korea was the seventh country to appear in the alphabetical order. Boxer Bang Chol-mi and shooter Park Myong-won led the delegation with the flag held high.
The North Korean athletes behind them also raised their flags.
Even before the official start of the Hangzhou Asian Games, North Korea’s athletes made a big show of their artificial flags.
The North Korean flag was raised alongside the flags of Brunei, Cambodia, and other countries during the official induction ceremony at the Hangzhou Athletes’ Village on Nov. 22.
It was also flown at the men’s table tennis tournament, where North Korea faced Japan.
North Korean players also sang the national anthem before the men’s soccer match against Chinese Taipei on Nov. 21.
However, this is against the rules of the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA).
In October 2021, WADA banned North Korea from flying its flag at international competitions outside of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, citing the country’s anti-doping agency’s failure to meet international standards.
WADA’s lifting of the sanction required corrective action, including inspections by external monitors of the DPRK’s anti-doping organization, which was not possible as the country closed its borders due to COVID-19.
As a result, at the International Taekwondo Federation (ITF) World Championships in Kazakhstan in August, North Korea’s artificial flag was banned, and some media outlets reported that the organizers did not fly the flags of all participating countries.
As artificial flags continue to fly at the Asian Games, there are observers who believe that WADA could hold the Asian Olympic Committee (OCA) and other organizers accountable in some way.
“If we become aware that our measures are not being respected, we will engage with the relevant organizations and work towards redress,” WADA said in response to a query, “and if necessary, we will take action against organizations that do not implement our findings,” RFA reported.
“North Korea continues to be in non-compliance with the World Anti-Doping Code,” WADA said, adding that “all international federations and major event organizations such as the OCA have been informed of the consequences of North Korea’s non-compliance.”
The reasons behind the artificial flag are unclear, but some observers have suggested that North Korea’s ties to its “blood brother” China and its return to general international competition after a five-year absence may have been a factor.
North Korea is considered a medal contender in several sports, including weightlifting, wrestling, shooting, and boxing.
At this point, it seems likely that the Hangzhou Asian Games organizers will not comply with WADA’s sanctions and will play the North Korean national anthem at the awards ceremony for North Korean athletes. 토토