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North Korea said it would not attend the Tokyo Olympics.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea became the first country to leave the Tokyo Olympics due to fears of the coronavirus, a decision that underscores the challenges Japan faces as it struggles to stage the tournament. World-class sports amid a serious epidemic

A website run by North Korea’s Sports Ministry said the National Olympic Committee during its March 25 meeting had decided not to participate in the competition to protect athletes from the “global health crisis caused by COVID-19”.

The outbreak has pushed the Tokyo Games, originally slated for 2020, and organizers have sought precautions such as banning international spectators for the safety of athletes and residents.

However, there are still concerns that the Olympics could worsen the spread of the virus, and Japan̵

7;s increasing vaccine launch and slow vaccine release raise public questions about whether the Games should be held.

Japan’s Olympic Committee said Tuesday that North Korea had not yet said it would not attend the Tokyo Games.

Katsunobukato, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, said the government hoped that many countries would attend the Olympics and that he promised adequate virus protection measures.

South Korea’s Unification Ministry lamented North Korea’s decision, saying it hoped the Tokyo Olympics would provide an opportunity to improve relations between Korea, which had fallen amid massive nuclear talks between Washington and Pyongyang.

North Korea sent 22 athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, along with 230 state officials, artists, performances, journalists and women’s cheering groups.

At the PyeongChang sports event, North and South Korean athletes marched under the blue map symbolizing the unified Korean peninsula, while the red-clad North Korean cheerleaders garnered global attention. Korea also made their way to the Olympic team to put together their first team in women’s ice hockey, which was greatly supported by the crowd despite losing all five games with a total score of 28-2.

Those games are also about politics. North Korea’s coincidence includes the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who conveyed her brother’s wishes to a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a move that helped North Korea begin negotiations with. South Korea and the United States

Diplomatic efforts are a stalemate, and North Korea’s decision to end the Tokyo Olympics was a setback for hopes of reviving it.

While North Korea steadfastly claims to be corona-free. But outsiders are skeptical of whether the country has survived the epidemic due to its poor health infrastructure and the porous border shared with China, its economic lifeline.

Describing the anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence,” North Korea has tightened cross-border traffic restrictions, banned tourists from evicted diplomats and mobilized health workers to quarantine tens of thousands of people who showed signs of symptoms.

Earlier, Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suka said he was expected to invite US President Joe Biden to the Olympics and was willing to meet with Kim Jong Un or his sister if he attended. Game competition However, Suga did not say if he would invite any of them.

Experts say the border shutdown from the pandemic has been increasingly shocking North Korea’s economy, which has been hit by decades of mismanagement, aggressive military spending and sanctions that have been impacted by North Korea. US-led on the nuclear weapons program

The economic setback leaves Kim nothing to show for his ambitious diplomacy with former President Donald Trump, derailed by frictions in exchanges, sanctions removal and the step. Nuclear Disarmament of the North

Kim, in a recent political speech, pledged to support his nuclear deterrence in the face of US-led pressure, and so far his government has rejected an overture by the Biden administration to negotiate on demand. Let Washington abandon the “hostile” policy first.

The North ended its one-year missile testing activity last month by launching two short-range missiles off its east coast, which is still a tradition in testing the new U.S. administration with a demonstration of weapons to measure its response. Washington’s response and the scramble of concessions


AP writer Hyung Jin Kim in Seoul and Mariyamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to the report.

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