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(LEAD) N. Korea says it's not joining Beijing Olympics due to 'hostile forces,' pandemic

North Korea 07:25 January 07, 2022

(ATTN: ADDS more details throughout, photo; CHANGES headline, lead)
By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Jan. 7 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has told China that it fully supports the upcoming Beijing Olympics though it cannot participate in the event, criticizing the U.S. diplomatic boycott of the Winter Games, state media reported Friday.

The North's Olympic Committee and the Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports delivered the message in a letter to China's Olympic Committee and other organizations on Wednesday, according to the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

"We could not take part in the Olympics due to the hostile forces' moves and the worldwide pandemic, but we would fully support the Chinese comrades in all their work to hold splendid and wonderful Olympic festival," the KCNA reported the letter as reading.

The International Olympic Committee earlier decided to suspend the North from the Beijing Olympics set for next month as a punishment for refusing to participate in last year's Tokyo Games over COVID-19 concerns.

North Korea also slammed the U.S. for "getting evermore undisguised in their moves against China aimed at preventing the successful opening of the Olympics," apparently referring to Washington's decision not to send a government delegation to the games over China's controversial human rights record.

"The DPRK Olympic Committee and the DPRK Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports resolutely reject those moves, branding them as an insult to the spirit of the international Olympic Charter and as a base act of attempting to disgrace the international image of China," it added. DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

South Korea had hoped to use the sporting event as a venue to reengage with North Korea and improve chilled inter-Korean relations.

But Seoul's top diplomat, Chung Eui-yong, said last month such chances seem to be "getting slimmer."

(LEAD) N. Korea says it's not joining Beijing Olympics due to 'hostile forces,' pandemic - 1

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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