- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2022

North Korea told China on Friday it will not participate in the Beijing Olympics, citing COVID-19 problems and what it called U.S. attempts to thwart the Winter Games’ success in February, according to state media.

North Korea’s athletes were suspended by the International Olympic Committee through 2022 after failing to send a delegation to Tokyo last summer amid the pandemic, so it is unclear if that motivated the decision.

State news agency KCNA said the letter criticized the U.S., which decided not to send a diplomatic delegation even though American athletes will be free to compete.

“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 North Koreans told China, their only real global ally.

“The U.S. and its vassal forces are getting evermore undisguised in their moves against China aimed at preventing the successful opening of the Olympics,” the North Korean letter said. It said those countries are “attempting to disgrace the international image of China.”

The letter does not say if any dignitaries will make it to the games, as North Korea deepens its reclusive stance with extreme COVID-19 measures.

Previously, Kim Yo-jong — the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un — attended the 2018 Winter Games in South Korea.

For more information, visit The Washington Times COVID-19 resource page.

• Tom Howell Jr. can be reached at thowell@washingtontimes.com.

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