North Korea has become the first country to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics, citing COVID-19 fears

Alexandra Ma
·1 min read
North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
  • North Korea has announced its decision to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics.

  • It wants to protect its athletes from the "public-health crisis caused by COVID-19," per the AP.

  • The games are set to start July 23. Japan has barred international spectators from attending.

  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

North Korea has announced its withdrawal from the Tokyo Olympics this year, saying it wants to protect its athletes from the "world public-health crisis caused by COVID-19," according to the Associated Press.

It is the first country to pull out of the rescheduled Tokyo Games, which was postponed from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The decision was said to be made on March 25, the BBC reported, citing a state-run news report.

Japan's Olympic Committee said on Tuesday that North Korea had not notified it about the withdrawal, according to the AP.

South Korea - which had hoped to use the games to improve its relationship with the North - also expressed regret over the decision.

Earlier this year Japan announced that no international spectators would be allowed to attend the games.

The event is due to begin July 23.

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