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North Korea announced it would not participate in the Tokyo Olympics – The Diplomat

North Korea became the first country to drop out of the Tokyo Olympics because of concerns about the coronavirus, a decision that highlights the challenges Japan faces as it struggles to host a global sporting event amid fears of the coronavirus. pandemic scene is raging.

A website run by the Korean Sports Ministry said its National Olympic Committee during its March 25 meeting decided not to participate in the Olympics to protect the athletes from the “health crisis. community health caused by COVID-19 “.

The pandemic pushed back the Tokyo Olympics, which were scheduled for 2020, and organizers tried to put in place preventive measures, such as banning international audiences, to ensure safety. athletes and people.

However, concerns remain that the Olympics could aggravate the spread of the virus and the growing number of hits and slow Japanese deployment of the vaccine have raised public questions. on whether the Olympics should be held.

Japan’s Olympic Committee on April 6 said North Korea has yet to announce that it will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics.

Kato Katsunobu, Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary, said the government hopes more countries will participate in the Olympics and he promised more anti-virus measures.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry expressed regret over North Korea’s decision, saying it hoped that the Tokyo Olympics would provide an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations, which had declined amid negotiations. Larger nuclear between Washington and Pyongyang is at a standstill.

Choi Young-sam, the South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the government supports Japan’s efforts to promote the Olympics while taking safety measures. Choi said there was still time for North Korea to reverse its decision and participate in the event.

North Korea sent 22 athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, along with government officials, performers, journalists, and an all-female cheerleading group of 230 members.

At the PyeongChang Olympics, North and Korean athletes marched together under a blue map representing a unified Korean Peninsula, while Korean cheerleaders dressed in red attracting global attention. North Korea also had their first combined Olympic team in women’s ice hockey, which garnered passionate support from the crowd despite losing all five games by a total of 28-2. .

Those games also talk a lot about politics. The North Korean team includes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s powerful sister, who conveys his brother’s wish for a summit meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a move to help North Korea begins negotiations with South Korea and the US.

Diplomatic efforts have been at a standstill since then, and North Korea’s decision to sit out of the Tokyo Olympics is a step back in hopes of reviving it.

While North Korea steadfastly claims to be free of the coronavirus, outsiders have doubts about whether the country will escape the pandemic completely, thanks to poor medical infrastructure and porous borders. which it shares with China, its economic lifeblood.

Describing its anti-virus efforts as “a matter of national survival”, North Korea severely restricted cross-border traffic, banned tourists, chased diplomats and mobilized medical staff. is used to isolate tens of thousands of people with symptoms.

Japanese Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide earlier said he was expected to invite US President Joe Biden to the Olympics and be ready to meet Kim Jong Un or his sister if either of them attend the Olympics. However, Suga didn’t say if he invited either of them.

Experts say the border-closing pandemic has further shocked the North Korean economy, which has been disrupted by decades of mismanagement, aggressive military spending and the crippling of sanctions. US-led penalties for its nuclear weapons program.

Economic failures leave Kim with nothing to represent his ambitious foreign policy with former President Donald Trump, which has derailed over disagreements over the exchange of orders’ release. sanctions and steps for North Korean nuclear disarmament.

In recent political speeches, Mr. Kim pledged to strengthen nuclear deterrence in the face of US-led pressure, and his government has so far rejected the Biden administration too. incentives for negotiations, asking Washington to give up its “hostile” policies first.

North Korea ended a year of suspension of ballistic missile testing last month by firing two short-range missiles off the east coast, continuing its tradition of testing new US administrations with Demonstration weapons to measure Washington’s response and win concessions.



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