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North Korea will not be participating in the upcoming Tokyo Olympics to protect its athletes from the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the country’s Sports Ministry, the Olympic Committee made the decision in a meeting on March 25, making North Korea the first country to bow out of the Tokyo Olympics.
“The committee decided not to join the 32nd Olympics Games to protect athletes from the global health crisis caused by the coronavirus,” it said.
North Korea has not reported a case of COVID-19 and has maintained tight cross-border traffic and tourist ban as part of its stringent coronavirus prevention measures.
The country is missing the sports event for the first time since the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and the 1988 Olympics in Seoul. The country’s decision to skip the games crushes the hopes for a discussion between North and South Korea through the event.
Originally set for 2020, the Tokyo Olympics have been postponed over coronavirus fears. The event is scheduled to take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021.