North Korea announce team of nearly 200 athletes for Hangzhou 2022

North Korea announce team of nearly 200 athletes for Hangzhou 2022
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Almost 200 athletes are set to represent North Korea at the upcoming Asian Games in Hangzhou as it ends a three-year isolation from major international sport, it has been announced.

A list of entries released by Hangzhou 2022 has shown that North Korea is planning to send 191-strong team for the Games that are due to open in a little over a week’s time in the Chinese city on September 23.

The North Korean athletes are set to compete in 18 sports including archery, basketball, football, table tennis, volleyball and weightlifting.

It will mark North Korea’s first outing in a major multi-sport event since the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta Palembang.

North Korea closed its already tight borders in early 2020 following the outbreak of the pandemic and skipped the Olympics in Tokyo, re-arranged to take place in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It was then banned by the International Olympic Committee from the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing for failing to take part at Tokyo 2020.

After the ban was lifted at the end of last year, North Korea returned to the international sporting arena in late April when two Japan-based athletes took part in the East Asian Karate Championship in Taizhou in China.

Last month, a taekwondo team travelled to a competition last month in Kazakhstan.

A total of 14 North Korean athletes were due to compete at the International Weightlifting Federation Grand Prix in Cuban capital Havana in July but their no-show means they will be unable to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Paris.

North Korea has competed in the past six editions of the Asian Games, securing 12 golds, 12 silvers and 13 bronzes at Jakarta Palembang 2018.

Eight of those golds came in weightlifting with the others coming in wrestling, shooting and gymnastics. Ri Song Gum and Rim Un Sim, who both won gold in the women's weightlifting five years ago, are scheduled to appear at Hangzhou 2022.

North Korea also marched together with South Korea under a unified flag at the Opening Ceremony of Jakarta Palembang 2018 and competed under the title "Korea" in canoeing, rowing and women’s basketball.

But relations between the two countries have deteriorated since then and a similar gesture in the Opening Ceremony, scheduled for September 23, is considered unlikely.

North Korea are due be in action on Tuesday (September 19), four days before the Opening Ceremony, when its men's football team are due to face Chinese Taipei as that sport kicks-off.

The Games are set is end on October 8.

Photo: Getty Images
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