The Sports in DPR Korea website said Tuesday the decision was made during a national Olympic Committee meeting on March 25 where members prioritised protecting athletes from the “world public health crisis caused by Covid-19.”
The country’s official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and the website describes itself as being run by the North’s Sports Ministry. North Korea’s state media previously reported the committee met but not the outcome of the meeting.
Japanese Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters she couldn’t immediately comment on the matter. Japan’s Olympic Committee said North Korea had not yet notified it that it wouldn’t participate in the Tokyo Games.
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. 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 with a combined score of 28-2.