North Korea has been banned from participating in the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing because the country decided to skip this summer’s Tokyo Games.
International Olympic Committee said its executive board suspended North Korea until the end of 2022, “as a result of the [country’s] unilateral decision not to participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.”
IOC President Thomas Bach reportedly said North Korea’s shunning of the Tokyo Games violated an Olympic charter requirement “to participate in the games of the Olympiad by sending athletes.”
The suspension means the IOC’s financial support for North Korea is “definitively forfeited” and the country will be ineligible for benefits from the IOC during the suspension period, according to the committee’s statement. If any North Korean athlete qualifies for the Beijing Games, the IOC executive board “will take an appropriate decision in due course for the athlete(s) concerned.”
North Korea indicated it would skip the 2022 Summer Games in April, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. At the time, North Korea said it decided against participating “to protect our athletes from the global health crisis situation related to the coronavirus as proposed by committee members,” according to a translation by South Korea’s Yonhap news service of an announcement on an official state-run North Korean website devoted to sports affairs, per NPR.
In 2018, North Korea sent nearly two dozen athletes to participate in the Games in South Korea. The country’s athletes last failed to participate in the Olympics in 1988.
The Beijing Games are slated to begin on Feb. 4 and end on Feb. 20.