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North Korea Withdraws From Tokyo Olympic Games Due To COVID-19

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orth Korea’s Sports Ministry has announced the nation will not compete at this year’s Tokyo Olympic Games due to COVID-19 concerns.

In a statement, the Ministry said: “The committee decided not to join the 32nd Olympic Games to protect athletes from the global health crisis caused by the Coronavirus.”

The decision sees the plans for a united Korean Olympic team this year fall apart, which South Korea President, Moon Jae-in, had reportedly hoped would revive peace talks between the two nations who are still at war.

South Korea’s unification ministry said on North Korea’s decision to pull out from the Games: “We regret it could not happen.”

The plans to unite the two nations at the Olympic Games was sparked further after the Winter Olympic Games in 2018 saw athletes from both nations march under a united Korea flag at the opening ceremony and participate with a combined women’s ice hockey team.

Reports have suggested the withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics will weaken current discussions between the two nations over the potential to pursue a joint Korean bid to host the 2032 Olympic Games, which Brisbane is currently the preferred bid of the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

The decision was reportedly made at a meeting of the North Korea national Olympic Committee in March in Pyongyang and will mark the first Summer Olympics North Korea has skipped since it decided to boycott the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.

The move is part of North Korea’s claims it is completely free of COVID-19 cases due to strict restrictions including the complete closure of its borders and the departure of diplomats and foreign nationals.

Russia’s embassy, however, has recently suggested North Korea is experiencing shortages of food, medicine, and other supplies due to its “total restrictions unprecedented in their severity”.