North Korea will not be a part of this year’s summer Olympics in Tokyo.
That’s according to the country’s sports ministry on Tuesday, which said it was due to concerns over the global health crisis.
Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said on Tuesday the country will continue to work on infection control ahead of the games, so that many countries and regions can participate.
The last time Pyongyang missed the summer games was back in 1988, when it boycotted South Korea amid the Cold War.
And while technically still at war, since it ended in a truce, South Korea’s president Moon Jae-in had hoped to use the games as a catalyst to revive stalled peace talks.
He hoped that the two Koreas could field a combined team in Tokyo, and rebuild momentum for improved relations.
The North’s withdrawal from Tokyo also comes as a setback for plans drawn up by both Moon and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to pursue a joint Korean bid to host the 2032 games.