Officials in the north have declared that they will not participate in this year’s Olympics due to COVID-19 issues, ending hopes for a united Korean Olympic team.
For the first time since 1988, North Korea’s athletes will not compete in the summer Olympic Games, according to the country’s Sports Ministry.
The announcement puts an end to South Korean President Moon Jae-plans in’s for a single Korean team.
The formation of a joint team was one of many initiatives aimed at improving ties between the neighbors, who are still at odds.
North Korea announced its withdrawal from Tokyo on March 25 at a meeting of its Olympic committee and Sports Minister Kim Il Guk, according to the ministry’s website.
“The committee decided not to join the 32nd Olympics Games to protect athletes from the global health crisis caused by the coronavirus,” it said.
South Korea hoped that the Olympic Games this year will serve as a catalyst for resuming stalled peace talks.
Seoul had hoped that the Tokyo Olympics would provide an opportunity to “foster peace and reconciliation between the two Koreas,” according to South Korea’s unification ministry in charge of inter-Korean affairs.
“We regret it could not happen,” it added in a statement.
When the last Olympic Games were held, the two countries demonstrated their solidarity.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un sent his sister to lead the country’s delegation to the Pyeongchang Winter Olympic Games in 2018, and athletes from both sides marched under a unified flag at the opening ceremonies and fielded a mixed women’s ice hockey team.
North Korea’s withdrawal from Tokyo is also a setback for plans to explore a joint Korean bid to host the 2032 Olympics, which were decided upon at a 2018 summit between Mr Moon and Mr Kim.
Brisbane appears to be the favorite to host the 2032 Olympic Games.
It is officially the International Olympic Committee’s preferred bid.
Source: ABC World News