North Korea became the first country to drop out of the Tokyo Olympics because of coronavirus fears. Its national Olympic Committee during a meeting on March 25 decided not to participate in the Games to protect athletes from the “world public health crisis caused by COVID-19.” Japan’s Olympic Committee said Tuesday that North Korea has not yet notified it that it wouldn’t participate in the Tokyo Games. Katsunobu Kato, Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, said the government hopes many countries will join the Olympics and he promised ample anti-virus measures. Choi Young-sam, a South Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said there was still time for the North to reverse its decision and participate in the event.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga previously said he expected to invite U.S. President Joe Biden to the Olympics and was willing to meet with Kim Jong Un or his sister if either attended the Games. Different of the official motivation of North Korea missing the Tokyo Olympics linked to the pandemic, there are opinions pointing to another fact: this decision occurred just after the moment when Japan decided extension of its unilateral sanctions against North Korea. Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato, hinted last week that Japan was looking to extend the sanctions in response to North Korea’s March ballistic-missile tests.