Seoul, Apr 6 (efe-epa).- North Korea has announced it will not participate in the Olympic Games in Tokyo this year in July in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The decision was made public on the North Korean sports department website late Monday following a resolution adopted by the country’s Olympic committee on Mar.25.
The statement underlined that North Korea would not be sending its athletes to the Olympic Games to “protect” them from infections caused by the global health crisis.
The extreme measures activated by Pyongyang to prevent the spread of the coronavirus has led the almost complete suspension of trade with China – which accounts for 90 percent of North Korea imports -, causing fear of shortages of commodities, and has caused most diplomats to leave the country.
The South Korean government was hoping that the Tokyo Olympics, which will kick off on Jul.23, would serve as a stage for reviving dialog with its neighbor, at a time marked by diplomatic freeze in the peninsula and a stalemate in the talks with the United States for denuclearization in the region.
“We had hoped that the Olympics could serve as an opportunity to make progress in inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation and to bring peace on the Korean Peninsula and it is a disappointment that this has become unlikely due to the Covid-19 situation,” a spokesperson of the South Korean government said at a press conference.
This is the first time that North Korea will not participate in the Summer Olympics since Seoul 1988, which Pyongyang had boycotted.
Although the two Koreas remain technically at war since the war between them in the 1950s, they have sometimes managed to present joint teams under a unified flag, the last time at the PyeonChang Winter Games, held in South Korea in 2018. EFE-EPA