|This marks the first Summer Olympics that the North will skip since the 1988 Seoul Olympics.(Photo by=Getty Images)|
[Asia News Communication = Reporter Reakkana] North Korea said Tuesday it will not participate in the upcoming Tokyo Summer Olympics to protect its athletes against the coronavirus pandemic, dashing South Korea's hopes to use the games to kickstart the stalled peace process with Pyongyang.
The decision was made during a general assembly meeting of the North's Olympic Committee held in Pyongyang on March 25, according to Sports in the DPRK Korea, a website on sports affairs in North Korea. The website stated that "the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has decided not to participate in the 32nd Olympic Games during the general assembly to protect our athletes from the global health crisis situation related to the coronavirus as proposed by committee members."
State media earlier reported that the North held the meeting via video links to discuss "practical issues linked to actively organizing public sports events," but didn’t announce the decision not to participate in the Tokyo Olympics set to kick off in July. Meanwhile, North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free but has placed tight border controls and taken other antivirus measures to ward off an outbreak in the country since early last year. This marks the first Summer Olympics that the North will skip since the 1988 Seoul Olympics.