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Two Koreas may paddle together in Indonesia

May 29,2018
The South Korean canoe governing body said Monday that it has launched a special committee for a joint Asian Games team with North Korea.

The Korea Canoe Federation (KCF) said it plans to pick eight male and eight female peddlers from South Korea by the end of this month and will announce its candidates for the men’s and women’s head coaching positions at a press conference at a later date.

Following the first inter-Korean summit in April, the KCF announced it would push for a single Korean team in the traditional boat race, commonly known as the dragon boat race, one of the three canoe disciplines at the Aug. 18 to Sept. 2 Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang, Indonesia.

“Though the political climate on the Korean Peninsula is rapidly changing, we will continue to push for a joint Korean team at the Asian Games,” the KCF said. “Our special committee for the joint team has already begun working.”

The federation noted that both Koreas can start from scratch, since they don’t have any full-time dragon boat paddlers. This means a potential unified Korean team won’t come at the expense of any current South Korean athletes.

A half-dozen other sports federations in South Korea, including those for table tennis, basketball and soft tennis, showed interest in joining forces with North Korea at the Asian Games. But the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA), the organizer of the Asian Games, recently balked at granting the Koreas extra entries just so they could bring their teams together. The Korea Table Tennis Association, for instance, had hoped to keep every qualified athlete from both Koreas on board if the countries agreed to combine their teams.

The KCF claimed no other national sports body is currently pursuing a joint team project and asked for the public’s support for its bid to compete under a single Korean flag.

The KCF previously claimed it had been preparing for a joint Korean team since last year, and it had already won support from International Canoe Federation President Jose Perurena and Asia Canoe Federation President Shoken Narita.

Dragon boat has only been contested at one previous Asian Games, the 2010 competition in Guangzhou, China. South Korea won bronze in the men’s 1,000 meters, even though the team was a motley crew of paddlers in other disciplines who only trained together for one month.

Yonhap