— Published 9 October 2023

WADA threatens OCA

The start of a new crisis in the Olympic movement? AFP reports that the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) has threatened sanctions against the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) over the presence of the North Korean flag at the Asian Games in Hangzhou, China (23 September to 8 October 2023). “WADA takes this matter extremely seriously and has written to the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) on several occasions, explaining in clear terms the possible consequences“, the agency said in a written statement. It explains that the sanctions imposed on the OCA could range from the withdrawal of IOC funding to financial fines. The reason? A flag. Declared non-compliant since 2021 for having closed its borders to controls after the start of the health crisis, North Korea should not normally have been able to fly its flag during the 2023 Asian Games, where its delegation of 190 athletes won 39 medals, including 11 gold. But the OCA ignored this procedural rule, despite reminders from WADA. The North Korean flag flew at the opening ceremony on Saturday 23 September. It was then hoisted at each of the medals won by its athletes. In response, Vinod Kumar Tiwari, the acting Director General of the OCA, said: “North Korea very recently wrote a letter to WADA to explain that the borders were open and that it could send its control agents to carry out tests. WADA agreed. They will probably send people to North Korea. This flag issue is a very sensitive one. It is not easy to resolve. But hopefully both sides will find a satisfactory way to agree.