North Korea won’t be part of Tokyo Olympics over COVID-19 fears

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North Korea won’t attend this 12 months’s Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pyongyang’s sports activities ministry mentioned, blowing the ultimate whistle on Seoul’s hopes of utilizing the Games to restart talks with its nuclear-armed neighbour.

The remoted North’s participation within the final Winter Games, hosted by the South in Pyeongchang, was a key catalyst within the diplomatic rapprochement of 2018.

Leader Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong attended as his envoy in a blaze of publicity, and the South’s President Moon Jae-in seized the chance to dealer talks between Pyongyang and Washington that led to a collection of high-profile conferences between Kim after which US president Donald Trump.

But Pyongyang’s announcement places an finish to Seoul’s hopes of utilizing the postponed Tokyo Games, resulting from start in July, to kick off a reset within the now deadlocked talks course of.

North Korea’s Olympic Committee “decided not to participate in the 32nd Olympic Games in order to protect players from the world public health crisis caused by Covid-19”, mentioned the Sports within the DPR Korea web site, run by the sports activities ministry in Pyongyang.

But analysts mentioned different components could have been at play.

The announcement — dated Monday — reported a gathering of the nationwide Olympic committee on March 25.

The North’s official KCNA information company had beforehand carried a dispatch on the committee assembly, with out mentioning the Olympic choice.