Myanmar athletes express protest against coup

An increasing number of athletes in Myanmar are expressing discontent with the military's coup on February 1.

A local human rights group says more than 800 civilian protesters have been killed nationwide in the ongoing military crackdown.

Anti-military sentiment is increasing in the sports world, where political involvement has been traditionally taboo.

Some of Myanmar's football players have refused to join the national squad for a match against Japan in an Asian qualifier for the 2022 soccer World Cup.

Zaw Min Tun was among those who opted out of participating in the match. He had been a member of the national squad for about 10 years.

Speaking to NHK, the footballer said that he boycotted the game because he wanted to stand with the people of Myanmar. He said that he decided to side with justice.

Other soccer players on the Myanmar squad also expressed their opposition to the military's actions. They remained silent during the national anthem before the start of Friday's match with Japan. A bench player gave the three-finger salute that has become associated with the protests.

A leading Myanmar swimmer, who holds the country's national record, and was expected to qualify for the Tokyo Olympic Games, announced his intention to boycott the Games.

The swimmer said if he competes in Tokyo while the military is in control of the country, his participation would be used as propaganda by the junta.