JINHUA: North Korea returned to major international competition for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic with a 2-0 win over Taiwan in men’s football at the Asian Games on Tuesday (Sep 19).
North Korea closed its already tight borders in early 2020 following the COVID-19 outbreak and skipped the Tokyo Olympics, which were pushed back to 2021 because of the pandemic.
The country was then banned from the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics for failing to take part in Tokyo.
But North Koreans are competing at the Asian Games in the Chinese city of Hangzhou in sports including athletics, gymnastics, basketball, football, boxing and weightlifting.
The Games officially open on Saturday but some events got underway on Tuesday, including men’s football, with Kim Kuk Jin and Ri Jo Guk scoring twice in the first half for North Korea against Taiwan.
Rivals South Korea begin their quest for a third men’s Asian Games gold in a row later on Tuesday when they face Kuwait.
Asian Games men’s football squads are made up of under-23 players but teams are allowed three older players.