Unified Korea team gets rousing welcome; no idea yet whether Kim is coming
There was no confirmation whether North Korea’s President Kim Jong-un is coming or not even as Indonesian organisers have extended him special invitation to witness the Games
Jakarta: Even as the host struggled to cope up with putting all the things in place with just two days to go for the start of the 18th Asian Games, the Organising Committee scored a sort of diplomatic goal as for the first time arch rivals North and South Korea sent a team under symbol "COR" in this continental quadrennial sporting extravaganza.
The Asian Games organizing committee and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) took no time in hailing the cooperation and unity between the two countries following the appearance of the unified Korea women’s basketball team.
There was no confirmation whether North Korea’s President Kim Jong-un is coming or not even as Indonesian organisers have extended him special invitation to witness the Games.
Playing under the symbol “COR” and the unification flag of the blue outline of the Korean peninsula on a white background, the joint team beat host country Indonesia 108-40 at the Basket Hall in the Gelora Bung Karno Sports Complex.
The 12-member unified Korea squad featured three players from the North, including the game’s top-scorer, Ro Suk Yong with 22 points. Kim Hye Yon, also from Pyongyang, added 14 points in a convincing Group X victory over Indonesia.
The players, who have been training together since the beginning of this month, were supported by a large group of fans from both North and South Korea who wore white T-shirts and waved the unification flag.
The paper flags read “Asian Games Jakarta-Palembang 2018 - One Dream, One Corea” – and, on Wednesday evening, that dream came a little closer thanks to this joint cooperation.
“We are very proud and happy that the Asian Games can contribute to the peace process on the Korean peninsula,” said the OCA’s Director General, Husain Al Musallam adding: “The unified Korea team made history by competing together for the first time at the Asian Games and we are looking forward to seeing the other teams in action in the coming days.”
“The women’s basketball game proved the power of sport to unite people,” he said “It was not only the players from North Korea and South Korea who were together, but also the officials and the supporters. To see the Presidents of the two National Olympic Committees sitting alongside each other in the VIP area was a very significant moment.
“The OCA will do everything to support and encourage further cooperation between the two Koreas in the hope of a lasting peace process for all the people on the Korean peninsula,” he said
The two Koreas will march together at the Opening Ceremony of the 18th Asian Games at the GBK Main Stadium on Saturday with 100 delegates each from the two NOCs.
At an OCA-brokered meeting in Jakarta, the National Olympic Committees of DPR Korea and the Republic of Korea agreed to field a unified team in three sports at the Asian Games—women’s basketball, rowing and dragon boat, which is a discipline of canoeing.
Rowing and dragon boat racing will take place in the co-host city of Palembang, capital of South Sumatra province.