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North Korea says it won’t go to the Tokyo Olympics because it doesn’t want virus infections

North Korea said it still hasn’t seen any COVID-19 cases

A woman wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks in front of he Olympic Rings Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Tokyo. The Japanese capital confirmed more than 390 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday.
A woman wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks in front of the Olympic rings Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Tokyo. The Japanese capital confirmed more than 390 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday. North Korea said it still hasn’t seen any COVID-19 cases.
Eugene Hoshiko, Associated Press

North Korea said it will drop out of the upcoming Tokyo Olympics because of coronavirus fears, The Associated Press reports.

North Korea’s Sports Ministry said on a website that it will not participate in the 2021 Summer Games due to the “world public health crisis caused by COVID-19.”

Why North Korea’s exit matters

Per The Associated Press, the move isn’t exactly surprising. Tokyo has faced challenges with hosting the Olympics during the novel coronavirus pandemic, so there was some belief some countries would exit the Summer Games.

  • The Olympics was already pushed back an entire year because of the coronavirus outbreak.
  • And now, “there’s still concern that the Olympics could worsen the spread of the virus and Japan’s rising caseload and slow vaccine rollout have raised public questions about whether the Games should be held at all,” according to The Associated Press.

Per NBC News, there was some hope that North Korea and South Korea could compete under the same flag again as they did in the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. However, it looks like that won’t be the case.

  • South Korea’s Unification Ministry said that it had been “hoping that the Tokyo Olympics could serve as an opportunity to promote the peace on the Korean peninsula as well as inter-Korean reconciliation and cooperation, but we find it a shame that we cannot because of the COVID-19 situation.”