'No, diplomatic, spat', as Japan play down flags absence

'No, diplomatic, spat', as Japan play down flags absence

Japan's red-sun flag, carried by female badminton star Reiko Shiota, led the delegation's procession at Friday's spectacular ceremony but the squad following behind only offered their caps towards applauding spectators.

Most other teams waved national flags, rather than hats. "There is no particular meaning behind it. We decided that caps would do," Yosuke Fujiwara, a spokesman for the Japanese delegation, told AFP.

"If we did give a diplomatic consideration, we would have marched with both Japanese and Chinese hand flags as we did at the Beijing Olympics."

The Japanese delegation did wave hand flags at the opening ceremony of the 2006 Asian Games in Doha while at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, they marched with both Japanese and Chinese flags.

Tensions between the two historic rivals were heightened in September when Japan arrested a Chinese captain who rammed his trawler against Japanese coastguard ships in disputed waters.

Anti-Japanese protests have spread through China while the Beijing government limited high-level exchanges with Japan and took other punitive measures.

The Japanese team were booed during a match at the under-19 Asian football championships in China last month when one spectator snatched their national flag from ceremony personnel while their anthem was played.

At an early Asiad football match between Japan and China last Sunday, Japanese and Chinese spectators were separated to prevent any trouble.

But the home crowd remained relatively calm despite China going down 3-0 to the visitors.

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