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S. Korea won't display disputed Takeshima islets on unification flags during Olympics

SEOUL -- South Korea will not display the disputed Takeshima islands on any unified Korean flags used during the upcoming Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, the South Korean Unification Ministry said on Feb. 5.

Seoul will not use unified flags showing Takeshima -- South Korean-controlled, Japanese-claimed islets in the Sea of Japan, called "Dokdo" in Korean -- during the Winter Olympics, including the opening ceremony or events involving inter-Korea teams, nor allow the use of such flags by spectators at the venues.

Such flags were used during a unified Korean women's ice hockey team's exhibition match against Sweden in Incheon on Feb. 4, stirring protests from the Japanese government.

A source close to the Unification Ministry explained, "We followed customary practice between South and North Korea because the match wasn't under the supervision of the IOC and organized by the (South) Korea Ice Hockey Association."

The Olympic Charter bans any political propaganda at Olympic facilities and venues for the games. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) warned a South Korean athlete for showing off a message claiming that Takeshima is part of South Korea's territory during the men's soccer event at the London Olympics in 2012.

Unified flags showing the Korean Peninsula and Takeshima were used in a parade during the opening ceremony of the 2006 Turin Winter Olympics.

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