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Blaming ‘Hostile Forces’, North Korea Says It Won’t Send an Olympic Team to Beijing

Jonathan Walker
Jonathan loves talking politics, economics and philosophy. He carries unique perspectives on everything making him a rather odd mix of liberal-conservative with a streak of independent Austrian thought.
Published: January 12, 2022
A Chinese firefighter wears a protective suit and carries a disinfection hose during a training session for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
A Chinese firefighter wears a protective suit and carries a disinfection hose during a training session for the upcoming Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. (Image: Kevin Frayer via Getty Images)

The North Korean regime is sitting out the 2022 Winter Olympics held in Beijing next month, citing condemnation of its ally China by “hostile forces” and the COVID-19 pandemic as reasons for its non-attendance. Pyongyang informed the Chinese Olympic Committee via its equivalent organization and the North Korean sports ministry.

In fact, North Korea’s refusal to participate in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics last year got the totalitarian nuclear-armed country suspended by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) for the entirety of 2022, though individual North Korean athletes may compete in the Games.

In its letter to the Chinese Olympic authorities, North Korea praised the Communist China and its leader Xi Jinping for the preparations host the Games despite the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. The letter blames the United States and its allies for their efforts to disrupt the Winter Olympics. 

“The U.S. and its vassal forces are getting evermore undisguised in their moves against China aimed at preventing the successful opening of the Olympics… The DPRK Olympic Committee and the DPRK Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports resolutely reject those moves, branding them as an insult to the spirit of the international Olympic Charter and as a base act of attempting to disgrace the international image of China,” the state-run Korean central News Agency (KCNA) said while paraphrasing Korea’s letter to China.

The IOC’s banning of the National Olympic Committee of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (PRK NOC) came as a result of North Korea’s “unilateral decision” to not attend the Tokyo Games. The PRK NOC also lost all its financial aid from the IOC.

“Throughout the process, the PRK NOC was given a fair opportunity to be heard, and received very clear warnings about the consequences of its position and the fact that any violation of the Olympic Charter would ultimately expose the PRK NOC to the measures and sanctions provided in the Olympic Charter,” the IOC executive board said in a statement.

In a recent press conference, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin praised North Korea despite its withdrawal from the Beijing Games. Wenbin thanked Pyongyang for providing Communist China with “positive support.”

In an interview with Newsweek, Cheong Seong-Chang, an analyst at the private Sejong Institute in South Korea, said that North Korea sees the United States, UK, and France as those behind its suspension from the IOC. In 2018 when the Winter Olympics was held in South Korea, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, had attended the event to show support for the country’s athletes and boost her regime’s international profile.

Several human rights groups have been calling for countries across the world to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics as a sign of protest against the Communist Party’s human rights abuses. The United States has declared a diplomatic boycott of the Games, meaning that though American athletes will participate in the competitions, no American diplomat will grace the event. Beijing called Washington’s decision an “outright political provocation.”