After the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ruled the banners provocative, South Korea’s Olympic committee removed them at the athlete’s village in Tokyo. The banners referred to the 16th-century war between Korea and Japan.
As part of their agreement to take down the banners, the South Koreans said they received a promise from the IOC that it would be forbidden to display Japanese “rising sun” flags at stadiums and other Olympic venues. There is anger towards the flag, depicting a red sun with 16 rays extending outwards, by many South Koreans due to its association with Japan’s imperial wartime past. Several far-right groups in Japan protested the South Korean banners hung outside Korean athletes’ rooms. The banners included text that read: “I still have the support of 50 million Korean people.”
During the 1592-1598 Japanese invasion of Korea, Korean naval Admiral Yi Sun-sin told King Seonjo of Korea’s Joseon Kingdom, “I still have 12 battleships left,” before pulling off an important victory against a larger Japanese fleet. Olympic sites, venues, and other areas are not acceptable for political, religious, or racial propaganda, according to South Korea’s Olympic Committee, which says the banners invoke images of war.
As a condition for removing the banners, the committee asked the IOC to also ban the rising sun flags at all Olympic venues under the same policy. There was no comment from Japanese officials regarding the South Korean announcement that the IOC would also ban the rising sun flag from the games.