North Korea says won’t attend Beijing Olympics, blames COVID-19 and ‘hostile forces’

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North Korean cheerleaders attend the women's 10km freestyle cross-country event at the Alpensia cross country ski centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 15, 2018 in Pyeongchang.

FILE–North Korean cheerleaders attend the women’s 10km freestyle cross-country event at the Alpensia cross country ski centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games on February 15, 2018 in Pyeongchang. (Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP)

SEOUL— In a letter to China, North Korea blamed “hostile forces” and COVID-19 risks for not being able to attend the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing and accused the United States of trying to prevent the Games’ success, state media said on Friday.

It was unclear whether the letter from North Korea’s Olympic Committee and Sports Ministry was referring only to its athletes – who are not eligible to compete after North Korea was suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) until the end of 2022 after failing to send a team to the Tokyo Olympics last year, citing COVID-19 concerns.

A summary of the letter by state…

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