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Author`s name Michael Simpson

Political Records of the Busan Asia Games

PRAVDA.Ru already published about much trouble the South Korean military structures experienced when North Korea decided to send its team to the XIV Asia Games in Busan. Indeed, the Korean law “On security” strictly prohibits to hang out North Korea national symbols. However, the Olympic principles won this time: North Korean flags were streaming in the places where athletes lived and at the sports grounds.

However, as it turned out, the flag disputes were nothing compared with what was to come next when North Koreans scored victories and, as provided by the Olympic regulations, their national anthem was to be played at the stadiums. The North Korea anthem sounded nine times over the sixteen days of the Asia Games, and the national flag was raised 33 times when North Korean athletes won the first, second or third places. 

The mass media informed of cases when most vigilant arms of the law in Busan arrested, as they say, “those whose popularized the national symbols of the communist North Korea.” However, nobody could prevent a so-called “propaganda action” when a North Korean athlete won the women marathon on the last but one day of the Games and made an extra lap about the stadium with the national flag (in the picture). To tell the truth, South Korea welcomed North Korean athletes and fans rather heartily. Seoul’s newspaper Korea Times informs, the audience cheered their sport success as well. Moreover, participation of North Korean athletes added special importance to the Games. That is why, as Korea Times supposes, world mass media also paid special attention to the Games: the Busan press-center attracted 6,000 thousand journalists which was unprecedented!
 
The Games were also very resulting from the sport point of view: several world records were broken (in heavy athletics, shooting, swimming). As was expected, athletes from “the three sports giants”, Japan, South Korea and China, dominated at the Games (they won 44, 92 and 150 gold medals correspondingly of the total number of 419). China’s success is impressive, however we should keep it in mind that the country won 183 gold medals at the XI Games held in Beijing 12 years ago. What is especially remarkable, the number of sports events was smaller at that Games. 

Leaders of the China team say that mostly young athletes, having no international experience were sent to the Busan Games. These athletes will represent China at the Olympic Games in Athens (2004) and in Beijing (2008). However, there is one more reason: athletes from former Soviet republics in Central Asia also participated in the Asia Games this time; they won 143 medals, including 37 gold ones. 
 
If we want to consider prospects of the Central Asia (former Soviet) sports contingent, we necessarily should pay attention to political problems. The prospects directly depend upon attitude of the Central Asia leadership toward the Russian diaspora. To confirm the idea, let’s remember the names of Central Asia athletes who won medals at the XIV Asia Games: Tatyana Yeremenko from Kyrgyzstan and Igor Perikeyev from Turkmenistan won gold medals; Valery Borisov, Grigory Yegorov and Sergey Filimonov from Kazakhstan are also the Games’ winners. No surprise, but majority of the winners belong to a so-called Russian minority living in the former Soviet republics in Central Asia. 
 
Andrey Krushinsky
PRAVDA.Ru
Beijing
China

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