Sunday, April 14, 2024

Why Can’t North Korea Compete in Weightlifting on the 2024 Olympic Video games?

“That is the primary time that each one of our athletes have received gold,” says Tune Nam Jang, head coach of the Democratic Folks’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK or PRK) weightlifting group in an interview supplied to BarBend. “We skilled extra and more durable, and we made many world information.”

Jang is referring to the DPRK’s efficiency on the current 2024 Asian Weightlifting Championships, which ran in Tashkent, Uzbekistan from Feb. 3 to 10. The nation despatched 11 athletes to Asians this yr, and 11 of them left as champions. 

North Korean fans wave flags in stadium at athletic event.
Credit score: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

[Related: Team China Withdraws From 2024 Asian Weightlifting Championships]

Within the 4 months for the reason that DPRK returned to worldwide weightlifting competitions (following a hiatus that started in 2019), its ladies athletes alone have set 12 new world information, and extra might come on the upcoming Worldwide Weightlifting Federation (IWF) World Cup in April. However the DPRK weightlifting group won’t make any look in any respect on the 2024 Olympic Video games in Paris. Why? In brief, they got an opportunity and didn’t take it.

The Paris Qualification System & the DPRK 

The qualification interval for the 2024 Olympic Video games started on Aug. 1, 2022, and runs till Apr. 28, 2024. To be eligible, a rustic’s athletes should “take part” (weighing in with out choosing up the barbell counts) in no less than 5 of the seven qualifier occasions such because the European Championships or Grand Prix. Two of the potential seven occasions are necessary:

All athletes aspiring to compete in Paris should additionally make themselves out there for rigorous drug testing no less than three months earlier than attending a qualifier occasion. Furthermore, to be eligible for Paris, you additionally have to rank within the high 10 in your weight class on this planet. For those who miss the boat on too many of those necessities, you’re out of luck. However the DPRK’s scenario is a little more difficult than that. 

Withdrawal From the Tokyo Olympics & Penalties 

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in a one-year delay of the Tokyo Olympics. The DPRK was the one nation to withdraw from the Video games earlier than they finally started in August of 2021. As a consequence, the nation was banned from any and all Olympic sports activities till the top of 2022 by the Worldwide Olympic Committee (IOC). Additionally they didn’t seem at final yr’s Asian Championships in Could. 

After a number of years with out exterior supervision and common out-of-competition drug testing, the DPRK submitted paperwork to take part within the 2023 IWF Grand Prix in Havana, Cuba, in June. Their abrupt return led to outcries of protest from the weightlifting neighborhood — if Crew PRK competed in Cuba, they might qualify for Paris 2024.

A rep inside the Worldwide Testing Company (ITA) even confirmed that no North Korean weightlifter had undergone out-of-competition drug testing since no less than 2019 as a result of ITA brokers weren’t allowed into the nation within the first place, nor had they been subjected to in-event testing.

[Related: The Best Weightlifting Belts To Buy in 2024]

After consulting with the ITA, the IWF introduced that North Korean weightlifters have been eligible to partake within the Paris qualification process as a result of that they had not damaged any particular IWF anti-doping guidelines (although they might not, in actuality, be examined). And so they have been informed that the foundations have been altering: If North Korea needed to maintain competing, they must begin admitting worldwide drug testers. 

However in spite of everything that commotion, Crew PRK didn’t present up in Cuba for the Prix. 

Crew PRK is infamously secretive and gave no advance discover of their absence. One senior supply inside the IWF believes that Crew PRK lacked the monetary help to attend a number of main weightlifting occasions — however in current months, the nation has acquired “solidarity funding” from the IOC.

Why the DPRK went by means of all the difficulty to get themselves into the Paris qualification system after which blow their probability by not attending the requisite competitions is unknown. However regardless, North Korea was just too late to the celebration

What Are the Implications?

Weightlifting is North Korea’s most-awarded Olympic sport. The nation has received 18 Video games medals in weightlifting, with their second-best sport, wrestling, producing solely 10. However whereas Crew DPRK was out of the sport from 2019 till late 2023, their chief rival, China, loved unprecedented success. China’s group of eight weightlifters received a file seven gold medals and one silver in Tokyo. The DPRK received’t contest China in Paris, however weightlifting was lately confirmed for the 2028 Olympics in Los Angeles, so the subsequent 4 years will inform a special story. 

Whereas the LA2028 weight courses stay unknown till a brand new qualifying program is drawn up, the remainder of the world — together with China, who’ve received no less than 5 gold medals in weightlifting at each Video games this century — is cautious of Crew PRK. 

  • As of Feb. 2024, PRK ladies personal eight out of 12 potential world information within the lightest 4 weight courses.
  • On the final worldwide IWF occasion in Dec. 2023, the DPRK received 9 out of 20 classes

[Related: How to Determine the Right Weightlifting Shoe Heel Height]

Crew DPRK will not be eligible for Paris, however they’ll definitely play spoiler on the remaining qualifier occasion, giving China and all different international locations an actual combat for the highest of the rostrum. Past that, weightlifting coaches all around the world are enjoying a guessing sport about which Paris classes China will elect to ship athletes to, as they’d be overwhelmingly favored to win gold. 

For Los Angeles 2028, that query will nearly definitely lengthen to North Korea as properly, significantly on the ladies’s aspect — mixed and as of Feb. 2024, Chinese language and North Korean ladies presently maintain 23 out of the 25 senior world information

Trying Ahead

If the Folks’s Republic is to qualify in 2028, it should adjust to the IWF’s 2024 anti-doping insurance policies. Thus far, they’re on observe; the PRK, for the primary time in a few years, has begun permitting unbiased drug testers into the nation. 

On the finish of 2023, the IWF revealed its testing knowledge for the ultimate quarter of the yr, which confirmed that 24 North Korean weightlifters had been examined with zero constructive outcomes. 

The 18 Crew PRK weightlifters who’ve competed on IWF phases prior to now 4 months have all been drug examined no less than as soon as, both throughout or outdoors of a contest. Their 11-strong profitable group from the Asian Championships in Tashkent was examined, too. In keeping with the ITA themselves, “conducting anti-doping actions in sure areas of the world may be significantly difficult,” as a result of geopolitical relations or, in some circumstances, armed conflicts. 

“Regardless of the challenges, there was profitable out-of-competition testing exercise on DPRK weightlifting athletes in current months … [the ITA] is dedicated to conducting strong testing on weightlifters as a lot as potential.”

DisclaimerBrian Oliver is an unbiased correspondent for BarBend. The views and opinions expressed on this website don’t essentially replicate his personal. Oliver shouldn’t be immediately affiliated with any of BarBend’s present media partnerships.

Featured Picture: Leonard Zhukovsky / Shutterstock

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