North Korea has decided to withdraw from the Tokyo Olympics on July due to coronavirus fears, its sports ministry said on Tuesday.
“The committee decided not to join the 32nd Olympics Games to protect athletes from the global health crisis caused by the coronavirus,” said the ministry on its website Joson Sports.
The decision comes after a meeting of the country’s Olympic committee with sports minister Kim Il Guk, on March 25.
The move would also disappoint the hopes of rebuilding friendly relations with South Korea, amidst plans of co-hosting the 2032 Olympics.
South Korea’s Unification Ministry said, “We regret it could not happen,” in a statement.
However, on Thursday the Seoul Metropolitan Government has submitted its bid to co-host said Olympics with Pyeongyang to the International Olympic Committee, according to official Korea.net.
Meanwhile, the Tokyo Olympic organizers responded with, “We will continue to prepare the best possible stage to welcome athletes from all countries and regions,” in a statement.