North Korea decided to cut off almost all of its connections to the outside world in 2020 to prevent an influx of coronavirus cases. The country has not reported a major Covid-19 outbreak and there has been no indication that it has occurred, although experts doubt Pyongyang’s claim that the country has not seen a single case of the virus.
Foreign diplomats and aid workers have also left the country en masse in recent months, citing shortages of goods and extreme restrictions on daily life, according to the Russian Embassy in Pyongyang.
According to a report published Tuesday in DPRK Sports, a state media focused on sports issues, North Korean officials announced that the country would not participate in this summer’s Games in order to “protect players from the global health crisis caused by Covid- 19. “
The decision was taken by the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) Olympic Committee, which held a video conference meeting with committee members and sports officials on March 25 in Pyongyang, DPRK Sports reported.
The games are currently scheduled to take place from 23 July to 8 August
. The Paralympics will continue, from August 24 to September 5.
This is the first time North Korea has missed the Olympics since boycotting the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and the 1988 Seoul Olympics. In 2018, the leaders of the two Koreas agreed to attend the co-hosting of the 2032 Olympic Games, but the inter-Korean discussion on the issue ceased in 2019.
The Olympics were originally scheduled for 2020, but organizers were forced to postpone the Olympics for the first time in the event’s history due to the pandemic.
The first event of the Games, the Olympic Torch Relay, officially began on March 25th. The Olympic flame is now on its way across the country, performed by 10,000 runners across 47 prefectures on a 121-day journey from Fukushima to Tokyo.
But restarting the Games was a controversial choice, with growing logistical challenges and pandemic concerns. Officials in Japan have expressed concern about a possible “fourth wave” in the pandemic, and the city of Osaka has canceled its Olympic torch events citing an increase in cases.
Although public support for the event in Japan remains silent, organizers have moved forward. The games are likely to look very different this year, however. Last month, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee said international spectators will be denied entry
in Japan due to the spread of coronavirus in the country and abroad. The Paralympics will also not welcome traveling fans, the committee said.
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