— Published 15 September 2023

North Korea breaks its isolation

There is no longer any doubt about it: North Korea will indeed be taking advantage of the 2023 Asian Games (September 23 to October 8 in Hangzhou, China) to break its isolation from the international sporting movement. With just over a week to go before the opening ceremony, almost 200 North Korean athletes are on the official entry list, published by the organising committee on the multi-sport event’s website. The 191-strong North Korean delegation will be represented in athletics, football, boxing and weightlifting. They will kick off the competition with their first match against Taiwan in the football tournament. North Korea has not taken part in a major international competition since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. It did not take part in the Tokyo 2020 Games for “health reasons“, and was suspended from the Beijing 2022 Winter Games by the IOC for boycotting the Summer Olympics in Japan. Last month, the Pyongyang authorities authorised a team to travel to Kazakhstan for an international taekwondo competition (pictured above), the first time this had happened in over two years. Vietnam, for its part, has announced that it will be sending a delegation of 337 athletes to Hangzhou. They will compete in 31 of the 40 sports on the programme. The aim is to win between two and five gold medals.