On Tuesday, North Korea announced it will not take part in the Tokyo Olympics this year, claiming the decision is to protect its athletes from coronavirus pandemic.
According to an official statement by North Korea’s sports minister Kim Il guk, the minister reviled “North Korea’s Olympic committee decided not to join the 32nd Olympics Games to protect athletes from the global health crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
“The committee also discussed ways to develop professional sports technologies, earn medals at international competitions and promote public sports activities over the next five years”, the statement added.
On the other hand, South Korea‘s Unification Ministry expressed regret at the North’s decision, saying it had hoped the Tokyo Olympics would provide an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations, which have declined amid a stalemate in wider nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
It’s worth mentioning that South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in hoped that the Games could be a catalyst for progress between both Koreas.
In 2018, both sides entered a joint team at the Winter Olympics which led to a series of historic summits.
Meanwhile, North Korea sent 22 athletes to the Winter Olympics in South Korea, along with government officials, journalists and a 230-member cheering group.