North Korea says it’s skipping the Tokyo Olympics simply hours after Japan introduced it will prolong sanctions in opposition to it

The Olympic rings in Tokyo Bay. Kevin reilly

  • North Korea mentioned on Tuesday it will ignore this 12 months’s Olympics, citing considerations over COVID-19.

  • Japan, the host nation, has simply prolonged unilateral sanctions in opposition to North Korea for 2 years.

  • The information dampens optimism that the video games may have led to talks between the 2 Koreas and america.

  • Visit the Insider homepage for more stories.

North Korea has mentioned it should skip the Tokyo Olympics to guard its athletes from COVID-19, an announcement that coincided with Japan’s extension of its unilateral sanctions in opposition to North Korea.

North Korea’s sports activities ministry mentioned in a press release to The Washington Post: “The Nationwide Olympic Committee of the Democratic Folks’s Republic of Korea has mentioned and determined to not take part within the thirty second Olympic Video games to guard athletes from the worldwide well being disaster brought on by the vicious viral pandemic.”

Nikkei Asia reported that the pullout marked the primary time North Korea has skipped the Olympics since 1988 – when the North pulled out as a result of the video games had been being held in South Korea.

North Korean state media reportedly reported that the decision to withdraw was taken on March 25, though the announcement got here simply as Japan introduced it will prolong unilateral sanctions in opposition to North Korea by two years.

These sanctions should not new. Tokyo imposed restricted sanctions in opposition to North Korea in 2006, banning bilateral commerce and flights between North Korea and Japan and stopping ships registered in North Korea from coming into Japanese waters or docking in Japanese ports.

Wider sanctions – which got here into impact in 2009 – have banned exports to North Korea.

In accordance with experiences from The Japan TimesJapan has spent the previous couple of months contemplating extending its unilateral sanctions.

Sanctions had been as a result of expire on April 13, however Japanese Chief Secretary Katsunobu Kato hinted last week that Japan sought to develop sanctions in response to March 25 ballistic missile testing in North Korea.

In accordance with a report by The Japan Times, a supply within the Japanese authorities mentioned the extension was seen as a approach to put stress on Pyongyang, with the intention of not solely denuclearizing however holding North Korea accountable for the kidnapping of around 17 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s.

The extension of Japanese sanctions was formalized Tuesday.

“Since Prime Minister Koizumi’s final go to to North Korea in 2004, dangerous relations between the 2 international locations have endured,” Atsuhito Isozaki, affiliate professor at Keio College, informed Japanese media. NK News. “Tokyo’s place was to increase the sanctions so long as there is no such thing as a change in Pyongyang’s perspective.”

North Korea’s withdrawal from the Tokyo Video games might have dashed South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s hope that the Olympics would assist pave the way in which for additional talks between the 2 Koreas and discussions. multilateral agreements with Japan and america.

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