The Summer Olympics 2020 had been postponed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, Tokyo is all set to host the mega event in July 2021 with fervor and zeal. However, North Korea announced Tuesday to pull out of the summer Olympics, citing the COVID-19 concerns.

This will be the first time that the country will not be represented at the Tokyo Olympics, since 1988, when North Korea refused to participate in the Seoul Olympics due to the Cold War.

This decision has dashed any hopes of revival of peace talks between the leaders of North and South Korea.

This bold decision was made at a meeting of the North Korea Olympic Committee, where attendees unanimously voted for opting out of the 2021 Olympics. Moreover, before the meeting was adjourned, the members also discussed ways to participate in sports competitions, while endorsing the idea of holding public sports events.

North Korea’s decision to back out of the Olympics doesn’t come as a surprise as it has maintained strict quarantine rules throughout the past year. As part of these stringent measures, the borders of the country have been closed since January 2020. Not only this, but the government has taken people who did not adhere to the specified security protocols to the task. Just last year in November, King Jong called for the execution of a customs official who was importing goods from China, against the government policy.

The administration of North Korea has taken matters very seriously. According to the sources, security protocol as prescribed by the government was integral to stop the spread of the virus. If we were to observe the kind of measures the government took, they might fall on the end of the spectrum. Closing borders was one thing, but banning tourists and casting out diplomats has been another thing altogether.

Many outsiders are skeptical if the country has got hold of the virus, considering its inadequate health facilities and the fragile border it shares with China. Whatever the reason may be, North Korea’s decision to opt-out of the 2021 Olympics has been met with regret by many countries, including South Korea. The Unification Ministry of South Korea also released an official statement highlighting that the country had thought that the Olympics would provide the two states a chance to mend their troubled relations.