North Korea says it will miss Beijing Olympics, blaming pandemic and 'hostile forces'

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea said Friday it would skip the Beijing Olympics next month because of the coronavirus pandemic and “enemy forces” actions, a largely redundant statement given the country has already been approved by the International Olympic Committee of the Games was excluded.

In September, the North Korea Committee suspended until 2022 because it refused to send a team to the Summer Games in Tokyo, citing the pandemic. IOC President Thomas Bach said at the time that individual athletes from North Korea who qualify for a competition in Beijing could still be admitted. There is not a word of it.

On Friday, North Korea’s state media announced that the Olympic Committee and Ministry of Sports had sent a letter to their counterparts in China to formally notify its last key ally and economic pipeline that it could not attend the Olympics. The games will open on February 4th.

“We were unable to attend the Olympics because of the steps taken by enemy forces and the global pandemic,” the letter said, according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

Download the. down NBC news app for breaking news and politics

The KCNA dispatch gave no information about the enemy forces. However, Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea, said they were most likely referring to the IOC or the United States, France and Britain, which North Korea believes are behind the IOC lockdown.

Despite the IOC’s decision, there was still hope in Seoul and elsewhere that, with the support of the IOC, the Games could serve as a place of reconciliation between rival Koreas. At the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, athletes from rival countries marched together to the opening ceremony and put together a team in women’s ice hockey.

Such hopes were dashed last week when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pledged to strengthen his armed forces and maintain his country’s strict virus restrictions but failed to reveal new guidelines on Washington and Seoul during a major political conference. On Wednesday, North Korea carried out a so-called hypersonic missile test in its first weapons test in two months.

“There is no reason for Kim Jong Un to attend the Beijing Olympics and South Korea’s push for a political statement to end the Korean War on the occasion of the Olympics has fizzled out,” said Cheong.

North Korea has maintained some of the world’s toughest restrictions on protection from the virus, including border closings for two years. The country has been skipping major international sporting events, including preliminary Olympic rounds, since the pandemic began.

The North Korean letter also accused the United States and its allies of attempting to hamper the successful hosting of the Games.

“The USA and its vassals are becoming ever more undisguised in their steps against China in order to prevent the successful opening of the Olympic Games,” the letter said. “(North Korea) strongly opposes these steps, branding them as an insult to the spirit of the International Olympic Charter and a base act of attempting to dishonor China’s international image.”

The letter most likely refers to a diplomatic boycott of the Games, led by the United States to protest China’s human rights record. As part of the boycott, athletes will compete in the Games, but no official delegations will be sent to Beijing. China has described the US action as an “outright political provocation”.

Leave a Comment