7/31/2018 5:00:58 PM

Sanctions push unified Korea teams to go no-brand at Asiad

Sanctions push unified Korea teams to go no-brand at Asiad

Seoul, South Korea: North and South Korean athletes in unified teams at next month's Asian Games will avoid wearing kit sponsored by global brands like Nike for fear of violating sanctions on Pyongyang that target luxury goods, officials said.

The two Koreas agreed to field joint teams in three disciplines -- canoeing, rowing and basketball -- at the Asian Games in Jakarta and Palembang from August 18 to September 2, in the latest round of sports diplomacy following the remarkable rapprochement on the peninsula.

Nuclear-armed North Korea is under multiple UN sanctions for its weapons programme and banned from importing luxury goods including sports equipment, prompting officials in the South to search for local uniform makers.

The South's Korean Basketball Association (KBA), which is sponsored by Nike, will turn to a small local company to provide uniforms for the joint women's team.

"We couldn't go with Nike because of sanctions," a KBA official told AFP.

"We can't have any brand names."

Nike will still provide uniforms for the KBA men's team which has an all-South Korean roster, the official said.

The Korea Canoe Federation, which is sponsored by Japanese sports brand Descente, has also found a local company to make uniforms for its paddlers on the joint team.

"We measured the North Korean paddlers' sizes after they arrived (on Sunday) and the uniforms are now in production," a federation official said.

It is the first time North and South Korea have formed unified teams to compete at the Asian Games.

The two countries –- which are technically still at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice instead of a peace treaty –- will also march together at the opening and closing ceremonies in Indonesia.

The move follows an agreement between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and the South's president Moon Jae-in at their summit in April.

Sporting cooperation helped spark the current thaw between the two Koreas after the North sent a high-level delegation and athletes to the Winter Olympics held in the South in February, with the two countries forming their first-ever unified Olympic team -- a joint women's ice hockey squad -- for the Games.

Diplomatic efforts have gathered pace since then, leading to a landmark summit between Kim and US President Donald Trump in Singapore last month.

But the US has warned against easing sanctions against the North Korean regime, recently blocking a request by the International Olympic Committee to the UN that called for an exemption to allow the delivery of sports equipment to the isolated country.

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