mcloudy.png
Sunday May 16th, 2021 2:59PM

North Korea says it won't participate in Tokyo Olympics

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea became the first country to drop out of the Tokyo Olympics because of coronavirus fears, a decision that underscores the challenges facing Japan as it struggles to stage a global sporting event amid a raging pandemic.

A website run by North Korea’s Sports Ministry said its national Olympic Committee during a meeting on March 25 decided not to participate in the Games to protect athletes from the “world public health crisis caused by COVID-19.”

The pandemic has already pushed back the Tokyo Games, which were originally scheduled for 2020, and organizers have scrambled to put in place preventive measures, such as banning international spectators, to ensure the safety of athletes and residents.

However, there’s still concern that the Olympics could worsen the spread of the virus and Japan’s rising caseload and slow vaccine rollout have raised public questions about whether the Games should be held at all.

Japan’s Olympic Committee said Tuesday that North Korea has not yet notified it that it wouldn’t participate in the Tokyo Games.

Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, said the government hopes many countries will join the Olympics and he promised ample anti-virus measures.

South Korea's Unification Ministry expressed regret over the North's decision, saying it had hoped that the Tokyo Olympics would provide an opportunity to improve inter-Korean relations, which have declined amid a stalemate in larger nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang.

Choi Young-sam, a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said the government supports Japan's efforts to push ahead with the Olympics while taking safety measures. Choi said there was still time for the North to reverse its decision and participate in the event.

North Korea sent 22 athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, along with government officials, performance artists, journalists and a 230-member all-female cheering group.

At the Pyeongchang Games, the North and South Korean athletes jointly marched under a blue map symbolizing a unified Korean Peninsula, while the red-clad North Korean cheerleaders captivated global attention. The Koreas also fielded their first combined Olympic team in women’s ice hockey, which drew passionate support from crowds despite losing all five of its games by a combined score of 28-2.

Those games were also much about politics. The North Korean contingent included the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who conveyed her brother’s desire for a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a move that helped the North initiate talks with South Korea and the United States.

Diplomatic efforts have been at a stalemate since, and North Korea’s decision to sit out the Tokyo Olympics is a setback for hopes to revive it.

While North Korea has steadfastly claimed to be coronavirus-free, outsiders have expressed doubt about 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 mobilized health workers with quarantine tens of thousands of people who had shown symptoms.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga previously said he expected to invite U.S. President Joe Biden to the Olympics and was willing to meet with Kim Jong Un or his sister if either attended the Games. Suga, however, did not say if he will invite either of them.

Experts say pandemic border closures have further shocked North Korea's economy, already broken by decades of mismanagement, aggressive military spending and crippling U.S.-led sanctions over its nuclear weapons program.

The economic setbacks have left Kim with nothing to show for his ambitious diplomacy with former President Donald Trump, which derailed over disagreements in exchanging the release of sanctions and the North’s nuclear disarmament steps.

Kim in recent political speeches has pledged to bolster his nuclear deterrent in face of U.S.-led pressure, and his government has so far rejected the Biden administration’s overture for talks, demanding that Washington abandon its “hostile” policies first.

The North ended a yearlong pause in ballistic testing activity last month by firing two short-range missiles off its eastern coast, continuing a tradition of testing new U.S. administrations with weapons demonstrations aimed at measuring Washington's response and wresting concessions.

__

AP writers Hyung-jin Kim in Seoul and Mari Yamaguchi in Tokyo contributed to the report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top General short headlines, AP World News
© Copyright 2021 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
AP source: MLB moving All-Star Game to Denver's Coors Field
Major League Baseball plans to relocate the All-Star Game to Coors Field in Denver after pulling this year’s Midsummer Classic from Atlanta over objections to sweeping changes to Georgia’s voting laws, according to a person familiar with the decision
10:11PM ( 11 minutes ago )
North Korea says it won't participate in Tokyo Olympics
North Korea says it will not participate in the Tokyo Olympics because of the coronavirus pandemic
10:06PM ( 16 minutes ago )
The Latest: Bears bench helping to keep Gonzaga at bay
There are about 8,000 fans inside Lucas Oil Stadium and the overwhelming majority of them are rooting for Baylor
10:02PM ( 20 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Myanmar junta charges celebrities with promoting protests
Myanmar’s ruling junta has stepped up its campaign against celebrities who support nationwide protests against its seizure of power, publishing illustrated wanted lists in the state press and warning against using their work
8:54PM ( 1 hour ago )
EXPLAINER: Minneapolis chief has sought to reform department
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has been a star witness for the prosecution at the trial of a former officer charged with killing George Floyd
8:11PM ( 2 hours ago )
Arkansas governor vetoes transgender youth treatment ban
Arkansas’ governor has vetoed legislation that would have made his state the first to ban gender confirming treatments for transgender youth, though lawmakers could enact the restriction over his objections
8:03PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP National News
Biden summons public support as GOP bucks infrastructure
With an appeal to think big, President Joe Biden is promoting his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan directly to Americans
5:45PM ( 4 hours ago )
Eating our lunch: Biden points to China in development push
Pushing for trillions of dollars in development spending, President Joe Biden and Democratic lawmakers are pointing to a booming, ambitious China they say is threatening to quickly overtake the United States in global clout and capacity
5:44PM ( 4 hours ago )
Yellen calls for minimum global corporate income tax
U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is urging the adoption of a minimum global corporate income tax
5:23PM ( 4 hours ago )
Top General short headlines
The Latest: California to resume indoor events on April 15
California will allow professional sports and other indoor events to resume April 15
8:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: Louisiana overpaid $405M in pandemic jobless aid
The Legislative Auditor's Office in Louisiana says the state labor department sent more than $405 million in state and federal unemployment insurance benefits to people who don’t appear to have been eligible for the relief during the pandemic
7:35PM ( 2 hours ago )
The Latest: CDC says schools don't need daily disinfection
The nation’s top health agency is no longer recommending daily disinfection of schools to prevent the spread of the coronavirus
5:38PM ( 4 hours ago )
AP World News
AP source: MLB moving All-Star Game to Denver's Coors Field
Major League Baseball plans to relocate the All-Star Game to Coors Field in Denver after pulling this year’s Midsummer Classic from Atlanta over objections to sweeping changes to Georgia’s voting laws, according to a person familiar with the decision
10:11PM ( 11 minutes ago )
The Latest: Bears bench helping to keep Gonzaga at bay
There are about 8,000 fans inside Lucas Oil Stadium and the overwhelming majority of them are rooting for Baylor
10:02PM ( 20 minutes ago )
The Latest: Bears put Zags in biggest hole of season
Baylor continues to dominate overall No. 1 seed Gonzaga in the national championship game
9:52PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Irving scores 40, Nets lose Harden but beat Knicks 114-112
Kyrie Irving scored 40 points, Jeff Green made two free throws with 3.7 seconds left and the Brooklyn Nets overcome the early loss of James Harden to beat the New York Knicks 114-112
9:43PM ( 39 minutes ago )
The Latest: Montana governor tests positive for COVID-19
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has tested positive for COVID-19 a few days after receiving his first dose of a coronavirus vaccine
9:39PM ( 42 minutes ago )