It has been reported that North Korea is planning to send a 200-strong delegation to Hangzhou 2022 ©Getty Images

North Korea is expected to return to the global sporting stage when the nation competes at this year's Asian Games in Hangzhou.

A North Korean delegation looks set to attend Hangzhou 2022 after China’s Deputy Minister of Sport Zhou Jinqiang revealed that all 45 National Olympic Committees had registered to compete in the Chinese city later this year.

Although Zhou did not directly mention North Korea, this announcement raises the prospect of the country ending its hiatus from international sport.

It also comes after Japanese news agency Kyodo News reported last month that North Korea was planning to send a delegation including 200 athletes, coaches and officials to Hangzhou 2022.

In April, two representatives from North Korea attended a preparatory meeting on the Asian Games with a view to competing at the multi-sport event, due to be held from September 23 to October 8.

North Korea was alone in withdrawing from the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics because of COVID-19 concerns, resulting in its National Olympic Committee being banned by the International Olympic Committee.

Gymnast Kim Su-jong secured one of North Korea's 12 golds at Jakarta Palembang 2018 ©Getty Images
Gymnast Kim Su-jong secured one of North Korea's 12 golds at Jakarta Palembang 2018 ©Getty Images

After the ban was lifted at the end of last year, North Korea returned to the international sporting arena in late April when two Japan-based athletes took part in the East Asian Karate Championship in the eastern Chinese city of Taizhou.

A total of 14 North Korean athletes were due to compete at the International Weightlifting Federation Grand Prix in Havana last week.

But their no-show in the Cuban capital means they will be unable to qualify for next year’s Olympics in Paris.

North Korea has been absent from international sport since January 2020 when it became the first county in the world to close its borders in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Led by dictator Kim Jong Un, North Korea has close political ties with China.

North Korea has competed in the past six editions of the Asian Games, securing 12 golds, 12 silvers and 13 bronzes at Jakarta Palembang 2018.

Eight of those golds came in weightlifting with the others coming in wrestling, shooting and gymnastics.