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North Korea Becomes First Country To Withdraw From Tokyo Olympics Due To COVID Concerns

From Associated Press - A website run by North Korea's Sports Ministry announced that its national Olympic Committee decided on March 25 not to participate in the 2021 Tokyo Olympics to protect their athletes from the world public health crises caused by COVID-19. North Korea is the first country to drop out of the Tokyo Olympics due to fears of COVID-19.

The pandemic caused Tokyo to push back the Olympics from 2020 to 2021. Organizers have since put in place many safety precautions to keep athletes safe, such as banning international spectators.

South Korea's Unification Ministry expressed regret over North Korea's decision and stated that they had hoped that the Tokyo Olympics would provide an opportunity to improve internal relations among Koreans of both the North and South. Relations between North and South Korea have continued to decline in recent years due to a stalemate in nuclear negotiations between Washington D.C. and North Korea's political center, Pyongyang.

In 2018, North Korea sent 22 athletes to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeonchang, South Korea, where North and South Korea had their first combined Olympic team in women's ice hockey.

To date, North Korea continues to claim to be entirely free of any COVID-19 cases.

Image from Getty Images

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