|The Beijing Olympic Tower is pictured near the Main Press Centre ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics on Jan 6, 2022. (File photo by= Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch)|
[Asia News = Reporter Reakkana] SEOUL: North Korea’s state media said on Friday (Jan 7) that in a letter to China, North Korea blamed "hostile forces" and COVID-19 risks for not being able to attend the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, and accused the United States of trying to prevent the Games' success,Reuters reported.
It's unclear whether the letter from North Korea's Olympic Committee and sports ministry were referring only to its athletes, who are not eligible to compete after North Korea was suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) until the end of 2022 after failing to send a team to the Tokyo Olympics last year, citing COVID-19 concerns. A summary of the letter by state news agency KCNA made no mention of a diplomatic delegation, and the country has maintained a strict self-imposed border lockdown that has blocked even its own diplomats from entering and choked off nearly all trade.
The letter criticized unspecified moves by the United States, which in December announced that its government officials will boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics because of China's human rights record while leaving US athletes free to travel to Beijing to compete. Meanwhile, North Korea has sent high-level political leaders to some previous games, including the sister of leader Kim Jong Un, Kim Yo Jong, to the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.