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.”
- North Korea’s capital city, Pyongyang, said there have been no cases of COVID-19 in the country so far. Experts have said this is really unlikely, according to BBC News.
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.”