North Korea did not participate in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. It cited concerns related to possible Coronavirus infections. The country did not want the virus to pose dangers to the impoverished nation. In the opinion of experts, an outbreak of the virus could hurt the dilapidated healthcare infrastructure of the hermit kingdom. Hence, Pyongyang took the unilateral decision. This was despite assurances given by the authorities. As a result, the International Olympic Committee IOC decided to debar North Korea from competing at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

IOC described it as a punishment.

The IOC tried to convince the Olympic Committee of the North to be a part of the international sports. The IOC said it would conduct safe games and cautioned about the possible repercussions of not sending its athletes to Tokyo. However, Pyongyang did not budge from its stand.

Non-participation in the Olympics could mean financial penalties

The IOC tried its best to convince Pyongyang to reconsider its decision and participate in the Olympics. It offered constructive proposals until the very last minute. These included providing vaccines, but the efforts failed, and North Korea stuck to its stand. Finally, the IOC suspended the North Korean Olympic Committee until the end of 2022.

This means the country cannot compete in Beijing. There is an exception for athletes of North Korea who qualify for the Winter Olympics through existing selection processes. The reunification plans of Korea came up against the background of the 2018 Winter Olympics. Incidentally, the suspension would mean financial penalties for North Korea.

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It will not be entitled to receive any assistance from the IOC during the period of suspension. It will also lose revenue from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

North Korea stayed away from Olympics 2020

The actions of Pyongyang meant it assigned more priority to control coronavirus compared to participating in the Olympics. North Korea has prevented a major outbreak of the disease by going in for many public health measures.

One of these was to sever ties with most of the outside world. The country did it in the initial stages of the pandemic.

These measures appear to have helped because there are no reports of any major outbreak of the disease. Foreign diplomats and aid workers have already fled, citing shortages of essential goods and extreme restrictions on daily life.

The Beijing Olympics scheduled for February 2022

IOC Committee president, Thomas Bach, announced: “They were in violation of the Olympic Charter, and did not fulfill their obligation as stated in the Olympic Charter to participate in the games of the Olympiad by sending athletes.”

There were fears of coronavirus, and the authorities took precautions to minimize the risks.

They employed strict protocols to ensure safety. These included daily testing for athletes, no spectators, and prohibitions on using public transportation and sightseeing. Last time there was a contingent of 22 athletes from North Korea to the Winter Games.

At that time, Bach hailed the action of the North because it was a milestone in peace efforts on the Korean peninsula. Athletes from both the North and the South marched together in the opening ceremony, and the countries combined to form a women’s ice hockey team.