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North Korea opts out of Olympics due to coronavirus concerns

North Korea will be absent from this year's Olympic Games.

The country's decision not to take part due to coronavirus concerns was confirmed on Tuesday morning.

State-run sports website DPRK reports the decision was taken at an Olympic committee meeting on March 25th.

They are the first country to announce a boycott of this year's games due to Covid-19.

A statement said the decision was taken to protect participants from North Korea from the virus.

"In the meeting the DPRK Olympic Committee discussed the suggestions of its members and decided not to participate in the 32nd Olympic Games in order to protect players from the world public health crisis caused by Covid-19."

North Korea has implemented some of the toughest restrictions in the world to halt the virus.

Travel in and out of the country has more or less ceased after the borders were shut off in January of last year.

They say they have not had any coronavirus cases.

Aside from their participation in the games, it was hoped it would also lead to further talks with South Korea.

They both entered a joint team at the Winter Olympics in 2018, which led to talks aimed at ending the long-running difficulties between the two countries.

South Korea had hoped to use the Tokyo games to engage in further talks with discussions currently at a standstill.

Olympics organisers said they noted the North Korean decision.

“We will continue to prepare the best possible stage to welcome athletes from all countries and regions,” they said in a statement.

The games are set to begin on July 23rd, though there are growing concerns in Japan at the impact of new strains of the virus and whether it could further derail plans.

The games have been already delayed by a year having been originally scheduled for 2020.

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