Japan will grant asylum to a footballer from Myanmar’s national team who raised an anti-coup salute during a match outside Tokyo and refused to fly home, reports said Friday.
Substitute goalkeeper Pyae Lyan Aung raised the three-finger salute as the national anthem played before a World Cup qualifier against Japan in May.
He then said he had decided to seek asylum in Japan because his life would be “in danger” if he returned to Myanmar.
The Southeast Asian country has been in turmoil since the military’s February coup, with over 900 killed and more than 7,000 arrested in a bloody crackdown, according to a local monitoring group.
The three-finger salute has frequently been used as a show of resistance by protesters during demonstrations.
Multiple major Japanese media outlets, citing anonymous sources, said the government had decided to grant the player refugee status.
Public broadcaster NHK said Japan’s immigration agency planned to certify the player’s refugee status next week.
Japan accepts just dozens of asylum applications each year.