Seoul, April 6 2021: The Sport’s ministry in North Korea has announced that the country will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics later this year because of the risk of the coronavirus pandemic.
This has dashed South Korea’s hopes of using the Games as an opportunity to start dialogue with the North. The isolated North’s participation in the last Winter Games, in Pyeongchang in the South, was a key factor in the diplomatic revival back in 2018.
Kim Yo Jong, the sister of Kim Jong Un attended as his envoy, in a blaze of publicity, and the South’s President Moon Jae-in seized the opportunity to broker a series of high-profile talks between Pyongyang and Washington during Donald Trump’s term.
This recent announcement by the North is another blow to the already dead-locked process. North Korea’s Olympic Committee’s statement read, ” the North decided not to participate in the 32nd Olympic Games in order to protect players from the world public health crisis caused by Covid-19″.
North Korea, which is subject to multiple international sanctions over its banned weapons program, is more isolated that ever after imposing a strict border lock-down more than a year ago in an effort to protect itself from the pandemic that started in its neighbourhood. They have repeatedly asserted they are virus free though this claim is doubted by experts.
The Biden administration officials hope to soon resume lower-level talks rather than high-profile summits. Biden has previously called Kim Jong Un a “thug” but is open to diplomacy.
The US Biden has warned North Korea of consequences for violations of UN Security Council resolutions after Pyongyang recently tested what US officials judged to be ballistic missiles, while inter-Korean relations are still at an impasse.
In spite of this bleak atmosphere, President Moon on his Independence day speech said, “This year’s Tokyo Olympics could be an opportunity for dialogues between South Korea and Japan, the North and the South, North Korea and Japan, and North Korea and the US.” The day commemorates mass protests that took place in 1919 across the Korean peninsula against Tokyo’s colonial rule. The North regularly criticizes Olympic host nation Japan over its brutal 20th-century annexation.
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