North Korea flags raise protests in South

Thu Sep 11, 2014 12:50am EDT
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By Peter Rutherford

SEOUL (Reuters) - Asian Games organizers (IAGOC) confirmed on Thursday they had taken down the flags of participating countries near one of the venues outside host city Incheon amid concerns that North Korean flags could be damaged by conservative groups or protesters.

North Korea is sending a 273-member delegation of athletes and officials to Incheon, west of Seoul, with the first batch scheduled to arrive later on Thursday on a direct flight from Pyongyang.

Organisers had put up the flags of the 45 competing nations in Goyang, a city located north of Seoul which is to host fencing and some football matches, but took them down and replaced them with Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) flags.

Tensions between North and South Korea are high and the two states are still technically in a state of war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

"We raised all the participant countries' flags along the road near Goyang stadium but we've taken them down," an IAGOC official told Reuters by telephone on Thursday.

"Some conservative groups were complaining about North Korean flags.

"We are worried that some groups might damage them. It's not that we are expecting any problems to occur but we just wanted to make sure that nothing happened."

The official said that according to OCA regulations, the flags of competing nations had to be flown at the athletes village, competition and training venues, as well as in the host city itself.   Continued...