North Korea became the first country to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics due to fears of the coronavirus. This decision highlights the challenges faced by Japan in its efforts to host global sporting events during the pandemic.
A website operated by the Ministry of Health said Tuesday that the North Korean Olympic Committee Council decided on March 25 not to participate in the event to protect athletes from the “global public health crisis caused by COVID-19.”
The pandemic has forced the postponement of the Games originally scheduled for 2020, and organizers have quickly taken preventive measures, such as banning the international public from protecting athletes and residents.
However, there are still concerns that the Olympic Games may exacerbate the spread of the virus. The rising infection rate in Japan, coupled with the slow introduction of vaccines, has triggered a public debate on whether the Olympics should be held.
The Japanese Olympic Committee pointed out that North Korea has not officially notified that it will not participate in the Olympics.
Chief Cabinet Secretary Kato Katsunobu said that the Japanese government is confident that many countries will participate in this event.
The Ministry of Unification of South Korea expressed regret over the decision and expressed its belief that the Olympic Games will provide an opportunity to improve relations between North Korea and South Korea. The relationship between North Korea and South Korea deteriorated during the deadlock in the nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.
South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson Choi Yongsan said that the government supports Japan’s efforts to host the Olympics to ensure the health of participants. Cui said that the North still has time to overturn its decision and participate in the expo.
North Korea sent 22 athletes to participate in the 2018 South Korean Winter Olympics, as well as a delegation, officials, artists, journalists and a 230-member cheerleading team.
At the Pyeongchang Games, athletes from the two countries marched side by side under a blue map depicting a united Korean peninsula. The red-clad North Korean cheerleaders attracted the attention of the world. The two countries also competed with the first women’s ice hockey joint Olympic team. Despite losing a total score of 28-2 in all five games, the team still received extremely high fan support.
Those games have a strong political element. The North Korean delegation included the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. He conveyed his brother’s wish to hold a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. The diplomacy of Seoul and Washington.
Diplomatic contacts are now at an impasse, and Pyongyang’s decision not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics has frustrated their hopes of resuming them.
Although North Korea has reiterated that it does not have the coronavirus, it has escaped the pandemic due to its weak health infrastructure and weak interactions with China’s main partner, China.