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North Korea pulls out of Tokyo Olympics, citing coronavirus fears
- Updated: April 12, 2021
With the Games just months away, the regime’s sports ministry says it wants to protect athletes from the ‘global health crisis’.
The decision was made at a meeting of North Korea’s Olympic committee, including its sports minister Kim Il guk, on 25 March the ministry said on its website, called Joson Sports. “The committee decided not to join the 32nd Olympics Games to protect athletes from the global health crisis caused by the coronavirus,” it said.
The meeting also discussed ways to develop professional sports technologies, earn medals at international competitions and promote public sports activities over the next five years, the ministry said.
North Korea has one of the world’s strictest quarantine regimes, despite the government’s denial that any cases have been detected in the country.
The measures have allowed the government to increase its control over daily life to levels similar to the famine years of the 1990s, according to analysts.
Outsiders doubt whether the country has escaped the pandemic entirely, given its poor health infrastructure and a porous border it shares with China, its economic lifeline.
Describing its anti-virus efforts as a “matter of national existence”, North Korea has severely limited cross-border traffic, banned tourists, jetted out diplomats and quarantined tens of thousands of people who have shown symptoms