Plans firm for joint Korean dragon boat at Asian Games

The ongoing thawing of the relationship between North and South Korea could see athletes from both countries join together to compete in the dragon boat competition at this year’s Asian Games in Indonesia.

The Korean Canoe Federation has been looking at the possibility of joining crews from both Koreas in the traditional boat race, also known as dragon boat, in the August 18-September 2 event in Jakarta and Palembang.

Recent breakthroughs in peace talks between South Korean President, Moon Jae-In, and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un, has emboldened the Korean Federation, which spoke publicly this week for the first time about a joint bid.

Dragon boating is not a big sport in either Koreas, but the Federation believes that will work in their favour.

"Even if we form a joint team, it won't come at the expense of any South Korean athletes," the federation said.

"And we don't have to ask the Olympic Council of Asia for any changes regarding the competition format or the size of the team. We can assemble a unified Korean team swiftly."

A joint proposal was raised privately at last month’s International Canoe Federation board meeting in Tokyo, and the bid has the full support of the sport’s governing body.

A joint declaration issued after last week’s inter-Korean summit promised the two Koreas would “demonstrate their collective wisdom, talents and solidarity by jointly participating in international sports events, such as the 2018 Asian Games”.

The South Korean Sports Ministry had sought, prior to the summit, expressions of interest from Korean Sporting Federations willing to consider combining athletes from the two Koreas.

The Korean Canoe Federation was one of seven federations to show enthusiasm for the proposal.

The KCF is reported to be planning open practice sessions on either side of the border in the lead-up to the Asian Games.

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