North Korea has become the first nation to pull out of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics due to COVID-19 fears.
The decision was made at an Olympic committee meeting on 25 March, according to a report by the state-run site Sports. North Korea claims to have zero recorded cases of COVID-19, a claim that experts think is unlikely, but still imposed stringent measures including shutting its borders and quarantining foreigners.
The Tokyo Olympics were initially scheduled to run in July 2020 but had to be postponed after Canada and Australia threatened to withdraw from the Games
if they were not delayed. While it has never entered any athletes in the cross country mountain biking event, North Korea is the first, and so far only, nation to pull out of the rescheduled 2021 event and, while we doubt it has the same influence as Canada and Australia, if higher-profile nations follow its lead it could lead to the Games being in jeopardy again.
Earlier in February, the Tokyo 2021 Organizing Committee President said the Games would happen "regardless of the pandemic situation"
, however there have been growing concerns that Japan could be on the verge of a fourth wave of the virus due to more infectious strains being detected. Recently, a preparatory event was cancelled after seven Covid infections broke out at a training camp for the Japanese water polo team and the Osaka leg of the Olympic torch relay has also been cancelled after infections in the city hit record highs.
We'll be keeping an eye on the status of the Games in the run-up to the event and will update you with any news as it comes in.