North Korea Pulls Out Of Tokyo Olympics Over Covid-19 Concerns.
NORTH KOREA will not join the Tokyo Olympics this year due to coronavirus concerns, the country’s sports ministry said, dashing South Korean hopes the Games could be a catalyst to revive stalled peace talks.
In a statement on Monday, April 5, a website run by North Korea’s sports ministry said the country’s Olympic Committee decided not to participate in this year’s Games “in order to protect players from the world public health crisis caused by Covid-19”.
The decision makes it the first time North Korea has missed a summer Olympics since it boycotted Seoul in 1988 amid the Cold War.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in had hoped the two countries, still technically at war after their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, could field a combined team in Tokyo and rebuild momentum for improved relations.
The North’s withdrawal from Tokyo is also a setback for plans, agreed at a 2018 summit between Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, to pursue a joint Korean bid to host the 2032 Games.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs said on Tuesday that Seoul had hoped the Tokyo Olympics would be a chance to “foster peace and reconciliation between the two Koreas.”
North Korea still insists it has not had any coronavirus cases. Kim, known to be a fan of US basketball, has publicly displayed his ambitions to promote professional sports.
The March 25 meeting also discussed ways to develop professional sports technologies, earn more medals at international competitions and expand public sports activities over the next five years, the ministry said.
Japanese Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters on Tuesday she was still confirming details and couldn’t immediately comment on the matter. Japan’s Olympic Committee said North Korea has not yet notified it that it wouldn’t participate in the Tokyo Games.