North Korea has pulled out of the Asian Para Games in Hangzhou as the country’s flag was set to be banned at the event in the Chinese city.

The secretive state has been declared non-compliant by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) which triggers a series of sanctions, including the national flag not being allowed at sporting competitions.

Officials from the Asian Paralympic Committee (APC) have decided to enforce the ban, taking a different path than the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) which decided to ignore WADA’s rules and allow North Korea’s flag at the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.

“I can confirm that NPC DPRK has withdrawn from the Games,” an APC spokesman said, as quoted by Korea JoongAng Daily.

“They took this decision after they were informed by the Asian Paralympic Committee that, as stipulated by WADA, the country flag of DPRK would not appear at any venues during the Asian Para Games as DPRK is non-compliant with the WADA code.

“Whilst we are sorry that their athletes won’t be in Hangzhou, the Asian Paralympic Committee is a signatory to the WADA code and therefore needs to implement their rulings.”

North Korea’s anti-doping agency was declared non-compliant with the World Anti-Doping Code in October 2021 after WADA found “non-conformities” in its testing programme.

As revealed by insidethegames, the country has agreed to open up to foreign visitors from anti-doping agencies in a bid to protect its sporting future.

Previously, no testers had been allowed in to carry out doping controls on the country’s athletes.

WADA has told the OCA that it will face “appropriate consequences” for its decision to allow the North Korean flag.

They said the continental body has “breached its signatory obligation” over its refusal to comply with the sanctions.

OCA acting director gender Vinod Kumar Tiwari claimed the organisation was working to resolve the “very sensitive issue”.

North Korea closed its already tight borders in early 2020 following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic and skipped the Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo the following year.

The Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games was the country’s first outing at a major multi-sport event since the last edition in Jakarta and Palembang in 2018.

They finished 10th in the overall standings with 11 golds, 18 silvers and 10 bronzes.

This included six golds and six world records in weightlifting, a comeback performance which has caused controversy due to the lack of drugs testing.

The Asian Para Games are due to run between Sunday (October 22) and October 28, a year later than planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

insidethegames has approached APC for a comment. – insidethegames

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