North Korea announced on Tuesday that it had decided not to participate in the 32nd Summer Olympics in Tokyo because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision was made when the National Olympic Committee of the North met in Pyongyang on March 25th and decided that a delegation would skip the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled for July 23rd to August 8th, “to our athletes protect from the global health crisis caused by the malignant viral infection, “said the government-run sport in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
It’s the first Summer Olympics the North has skipped since boycotting the Seoul Olympics in 1988.
North Korea, which has a rundown public health system, has taken tough measures against the virus since the beginning of last year, including closing its borders. The country officially maintains that there are no Covid-19 cases, but outside health experts remain skeptical.
North Korea’s decision robs South Korea and other nations of a rare opportunity to make official contact with the isolated country. Officials in the south had hoped the Olympics could provide a venue for high-level delegates from both Koreas to discuss issues beyond the sport.
The 2018 Winter Olympics in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang provided such an opportunity. Kim Yo-jong, the only sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, attracted worldwide attention when she crossed the border into South Korea as the first member of the Kim family attend the opening ceremony.
Mr. Kim used the North’s participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics as a signal to begin diplomacy after a series of nuclear and long-range missile tests. An inter-Korean dialogue soon followed, resulting in three Summit meeting between Mr. Kim and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. Mr. Kim also met three times with President Donald J. Trump.
But since then collapse Due to Mr. Kim’s diplomacy with Mr. Trump in 2019, North Korea has avoided official contact with South Korea or the United States. The pandemic has deepened his diplomatic isolation and economic difficulties in the face of concerns about his nuclear ambitions. North Korea brought to life two ballistic missiles on March 25 in its first such test in a year, in a challenge to President Biden.
The Tokyo Games, which start in July, were originally planned for 2020, but they were delayed by a year because of the pandemic. The Tokyo Organizing Committee has made efforts to improve security Logs to protect both participants and residents from the virus. Concern is high in Japan, with large majorities in polls saying the Games shouldn’t be held this summer.
A number of health, economic and political challenges have besieged the Games. Even when the organizers decided last month Bar international audience, Epidemiologists warn that the Olympics could turn into a superspreader event. Thousands of athletes and other participants will come to Tokyo from more than 200 countries while much of the Japanese public remains unvaccinated.