Amid the worldwide pandemic, Japan is struggling to prepare for hosting the next Olympic Games in Tokyo. Originally slated for 2020, the monumental event was postponed until July and August of this year. Construct and/or renovating proper arenas for the contests, not to mention facilities to house the athletes, is a costly venture, and at this point, they have no idea which countries will even show up.
As COVID-19 and its new strains are running the course through Europe and causing some countries, such as France, to once again shut down, there is skepticism concerning the newly scheduled dates. A lot of course will be determined by what happens between now and then, but one thing is for absolute certain, if the games do commence on schedule, they’ll be doing so without any North Korean athletes.
North Korea’s sports ministry has announced that their country will not be represented due to the “world public health crisis caused by COVID-19.” Though the organizers of the event have placed every preventive measure known to humankind in place, even banning international spectators, it isn’t enough to put their athletes at risk and run the chance of them carrying germs back home with them.
There is also a major concern among other countries because of Japan’s slow vaccine rollout and the number of in-country cases still on the rise. Japan’s chief cabinet secretary, Katsunobu Kato, said the government is hopeful that other countries will see the strong anti-virus measures they have taken and make the decision to participate.
South Korea was hoping to use the Olympic Games as a way of improving their declining relations with their neighbors to the north. Tensions have increased between the two nations as a result of nuclear negotiations between NK and the US falling flat.
North Korea’s foreign minister said the nation is in full support of Japan pressing ahead with the games, but because the hermit nation has thus far avoided COVID-19, they wish to continue down the same path. At the 2018 Olympic Games held in Seoul, North Korea showed up with not only 22 athletes, a handful of government officials, and a few performing artists for everyone’s express entertainment, they brought a cheering squad consisting of 230 women.
The cheering women were all dressed in red and raised the roof in the hockey rink where they caught national attention. Even so, NK’s women’s ice hockey team lost every one of their five games by an average score of 28-2. But they were great sports about it and a good time was had by all.
Now the big question remains concerning which other countries are going to follow North Korea’s lead. As odd as it sounds, North Korea’s flashy show will be dearly missed this time around, but the sheer numbers of people brought in by other nations are imperative to the success of the games.
But, North Korea’s backing of the games may not have anything to do with COVID-19. The country suffered immense financial setbacks over failed nuclear talks with the US and South Korea which landed new sanctions in their lap. Because of the failed talks, Kim Jon Un has been pumping new money into their nuclear program and just recently fired off two test rockets to prove it.
President Joe Biden has attempted to reckon with the country but they have rejected his policies by claiming them to have hidden hostile motives. For all intents and purposes, it appears more like the tiny nation is sinking back into oblivion rather than avoiding the Olympics. They’ve once again become secretive.
Perhaps other nations will realize what North Korea is really up to and not cancel their plans to compete in the games based on what is surely a lie. In the meanwhile, Japan is pushing through with spending their yen like no one else’s business, and in actuality, nobody really cares if NK shows up or not.