North Korea is first country to announce it will skip out on the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympic games. According to a report from the BBC, the North Korea claims its decision is based on concerns of protecting the country's athletes from contracting COVID-19.
Though the announcement was not made until Tuesday, the country's decision to skip out on the games apparently came in late March. The International Olympic Committee notes that it did not receive any official application from North Korea to skip out on the Olympics. The organization also lamented that the country's concerns could have been addressed and discussed through a telephone conference, but that never happened.
North Korea's COVID-19 policies have been rather strict, with the country shutting down borders in late January and forbidding trains and wagons to enter or leave the country. International passenger flights were also stopped.
The biggest negative effect of North Korea's decision pertains to international relations.
South Korea was hoping to use the Tokyo Olympics as a moment to continue peace talks. Steps were taken in this direction in 2018, when North Korea sent 22 athletes to the Winter Olympics in Sochi. The two countries are still technically at war with one another, since no peace treaty was signed at the end of the Korean War in 1953.
This will be the first Summer Olympics that North Korea has missed since 1988, when the Seoul Games were boycotted.