North Korea, citing the pandemic, will skip the Tokyo Olympics.

North Korea stated on Tuesday that it had determined to not take part in the 32nd Tokyo Summer Olympics due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The determination was made when the North’s nationwide Olympic Committee met on March 25 in Pyongyang, the place it determined a delegation would skip the Tokyo Olympics, to be held on July 23 to Aug. 8, “in order to protect our athletes from the global health crisis caused by the malicious virus infection,” the Sports in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, a government-run web site, stated.

North Korea, which has a decrepit public well being system, has taken stringent measures in opposition to the virus since early final yr, together with shutting its borders. The nation formally maintains that it has no Covid-19 instances, however exterior well being consultants stay skeptical.

North Korea’s determination deprives South Korea and different nations of a uncommon alternative to determine official contact with the remoted nation. Officials in the South had hoped that the Olympics may present a venue for senior delegates from each Koreas to fulfill to debate points past sports activities.

The 2018 Winter Olympics, held in the South Korean metropolis of Pyeongchang, offered such a chance. Kim Yo-jong, the solely sister of North Korea’s chief, Kim Jong-un, grabbed world consideration when she turned the first member of the Kim household to cross the border into South Korea to attend the opening ceremony.

Mr. Kim used the North’s participation in the Pyeongchang Olympics as the sign to start out diplomacy after a sequence of nuclear and long-range missile assessments. Soon, inter-Korean dialogue adopted, main to a few summit meetings between Mr. Kim and President Moon Jae-in of South Korea. Mr. Kim additionally met with President Donald J. Trump 3 times.

But since the collapse of Mr. Kim’s diplomacy with Mr. Trump in 2019, North Korea has shunned official contact with South Korea or the United States. The pandemic has deepened its diplomatic isolation and financial difficulties amid considerations over its nuclear ambitions. North Korea launched two ballistic missiles on March 25 in its first such check in a yr, in a problem to President Biden.

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