North Korea has announced it will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics this year, saying its decision is to protect its athletes from covid-19 punishment.
The decision ended South Korea’s hopes of using the Olympic Games to clash with North Korea.
In 2018, the two sides teamed up at the Winter Olympics, triggering a series of historic summits.
Pyongyang says it has no cases of the virus, but experts say it is impossible.
The country’s health system simply deemed inappropriate to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, reports BBC Tokyo correspondent Rupert Winfield-Hayes.
The notice makes North Korea the first major country to skip the postponed 2020 Olympic Games due to the pandemic. The incident scheduled to begin July 23.
They will be North Korea’s first Summer Olympics since the Seoul Games boycotted during the 1988 Cold War.
Hopes faded for the Games
Pyongyang’s decision made at an Olympic Committee meeting on March 25, according to North Korea’s official Sports Allosteric website.
However, the IOC said it had not “received” North Korea’s formal request to withdraw from the Games.
He added that despite repeated requests, the country’s National Olympic Committee had failed to “call a conference to discuss the covid-19 situation in North Korea.”
North Korea cracking down on the virus since it erupted last year.
It closed its borders at the end of January and subsequently quarantined hundreds of foreigners in the capital.
Trains and trucks to North Korea have banned from entering and leaving since the start of last year, and most international passenger flights have suspended.
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South Korean President Roh Tae-wok hopes the Olympic Games will be a catalyst for progress between the two Koreas.
In 2018, North Korea sent 22 athletes to the South Korean Winter Olympics, as well as government officials, journalists and a team of 230 scorers.
The force, which included Kim Jung-sun, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong UN, has helped North Korea participate in diplomacy with South Korea and the United States.
Subsequent talks led to a series of high-profile historic meetings between North Korean leaders and U.S. President Donald Trump.
After the talks, there was a desire to improve relations between the two countries, but nothing has come true since then, and the atmosphere has deteriorated ever since.
North and South Korea are technically still at war because no peace treaty signed at the end of the 1953 Korean War.
Japan and North Korea also have their own ongoing tensions rooted in Japan’s 35-year colonial government over the country, Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs and North Korea’s past kidnappings of Japanese citizens.
Covid-19 Concerns in Japan
Preparations for the Olympic Games in Japan cancelled after seven people tested positive for the virus after a quite infection began during a Japan Water polo training camp.
It previously reported that the Olympic torch relay at Osaka station will cancelled after the number of infected people in the city recorded.
Japan is increasingly concerned that strains that are more infectious could trigger a possible fourth wave of COVID-19 in the country.