South Korea sends its largest-ever contingent, aims to reclaim second place overall

The 19th Hangzhou Asian Games, the largest sports festival in the 4.7 billion-strong Asian continent, is just 100 days away. On September 23 in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China, the Korean national team is hoping to overtake Japan and take second place overall. As a precursor to the 2024 Paris Olympics, the Asian Games are expected to be fiercely contested by athletes from South Korea and other Asian nations.

The Hangzhou Asian Games will be held for 16 days from September 23 to October 8. The Games will be held in six cities – Hangzhou, Huzhou, Xiaoxing, Ningbo, Wenzhou, and Jinhua.

The Chinese government and organizing committee announced in July last year that the Asian Games, which were scheduled to take place last September, would be postponed by one year due to the spread of COVID-19 in the country. This marks the first time the Summer Asian Games will be held in an odd-numbered year after being held in an even-numbered year every four years since the 1954 Games in Manila, Philippines. The next Asian Games will be held in 2023, but will be known as the Hangzhou 2022 Asian Games.

A total of 45 countries, including South Korea, will compete in the Asian Games. North Korea’s return to international competition is particularly significant. Five years ago, at the 2018 Jakarta-Palembang Summer Asian Games, the two Koreas jointly carried the Korean Peninsula flag during the opening and closing ceremonies. The two Koreas competed as unified teams in three sports: women’s basketball, canoeing, and rowing. The team won one gold and two bronze medals, including the first-ever gold medal for a unified North-South team at an international event in the women’s 500-meter canoe race. The women’s basketball team won a silver medal.

North Korea did not compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in 2021, citing COVID-19 as a reason for its absence. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended the country from international competition until the end of 2022. The ban was lifted late last year, marking North Korea’s return to the international stage after a five-year absence.

A total of 483 gold medals are up for grabs in 40 sports and 61 events. It is also the first time that e-sports, a strong South Korean sport, has been included as an official event.

Team Korea is expected to battle Japan for second place overall at the Hangzhou Asian Games. Japan is strong in athletics and swimming, where gold medals are at stake, and will aim to improve on its second-place finish at the last Games. If South Korean athletes perform well in track and field and swimming, they will be able to overtake Japan for second place.

Team Korea is sending a record 1180 athletes to the Games. Korean sports stars such as Woo Sang-hyuk (men’s high jump), Hwang Sun-woo (swimming), Yeo Seo-jung (gymnastics), Shin Yubin (table tennis), Ahn Se-young (badminton), and An An (archery) are ready to take on their Asian counterparts.

Athletes from Busan are also in the mix. Traditional Korean sailing powerhouse Hajimin (Haeundae Daegu Office) will be looking to repeat his 2018 gold medal in the RS:X event. Women’s weightlifters Kim Soo-hyun (76kg), Yoo Won-joo (55kg) and Son Young-hee (87kg+) are also preparing to take the top spot on the Asian stage.

The men’s and women’s athletes of the Busan Environment Corporation Sepaktacraw are also aiming for the top spot in Asia. Kim Se-hee (Busan City Sports Association), who is competing in the modern pentathlon, is also a strong contender for gold 스포츠토토.

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