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7 Jan, 2022 10:05

North Korea claims US is leading ‘hostile forces’ in Olympics decision

The US has been accused of "insulting" China over the Beijing Olympics by North Korea, which has said it will not participate in the Games and praised Xi Jinping's government
North Korea claims US is leading ‘hostile forces’ in Olympics decision

North Korea has reached a decision over the Beijing Olympics in an announcement influenced by the pandemic and the "hostile forces" being led by the US.

Pyongyang has announced that it will not be participating in the Games and Paralympics in February, repeating its decision over the Tokyo Olympics in summer 2021, when it did not send a team because of purported fears over Covid.

North Korea's national Olympic committee and sports ministry informed its Chinese counterparts of the decision in a letter accusing the US of brazen attempts to sabotage the showpiece, the state-run Korean Central News Agency said.

Kim Jong-un's administration took aim at the high-profile decision by numerous countries to carry out a diplomatic boycott of the Games, which has gathered momentum since the Biden government announced in December 2021 that it would be shunning the spectacle.

The letter pledged to "fully support the Chinese comrades in all their work to hold a splendid and wonderful Olympic festival", adding that North Korea believes the "fraternal Chinese people and sportspersons would successfully open the Beijing Winter Olympics by overcoming all sorts of obstructions and difficulties, rallied close around General Secretary Xi Jinping and the Communist Party of China."

The letter claimed the US and its "vassal forces" are "getting ever more undisguised" in what North Korea sees as attempts to prevent the Olympics from being successfully opened.

China has repeatedly reacted to boycott announcements by insisting that the diplomats who will be pointedly absent would not have been invited to the opening of the Games.

Russian president Vladimir Putin has said that he intends to be at the opening ceremony and has suggested that his attendance could include talks with Xi.

The Russian Olympic Committee has been among the organizations to argue that boycotts conflict with the Olympic Charter.

North Korea clearly agrees with that viewpoint, calling the US decision "an insult to the spirit of the international Olympic Charter" and "a base act of attempting to disgrace the international image of China".

Productive work by the Chinese Communist Party, including a "devoted struggle" to successfully organize the Games during a pandemic, will lead to the Olympics succeeding, North Korea said.

Beijing dismissed any idea of the Games being postponed during a meeting with international Olympic committees on Thursday, according to AFP.

The outlet said that the World Health Organization (WHO) is optimistic the Games will go ahead safely despite rocketing Covid cases in recent weeks.

“The Chinese authorities have very strict measures in place and they’ve released a series of different playbooks," said WHO emergencies director Michael Ryan, adding that the guidelines would be continuously looked at alongside the International Olympic Committee.

“I’m confident that, given the information we have, that the measures that are in place for the Games are very strict and very strong and we don’t, at this point, see any increased risk of disease transmission in that context.

"We will continue to monitor the situation. But certainly at this stage, given the arrangements that have been put in place for the athletes by the organisers, we don’t perceive that there’s any particular extra-risk in hosting or running the Games.

“But obviously we will keep all of the measures that are being put in place are under constant review.”