North Korea has become the first major nation to pull out of the Tokyo Olympics to protect itself from the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was made at a meeting of North Korea’s Olympic committee, which said in a statement that it wouldn’t be joining the Games—due to begin July 23—in order to “protect athletes from the global health crisis caused by the coronavirus.” Officially, North Korea has recorded zero coronavirus cases, although that seems vanishingly unlikely. It will be the first Summer Olympics that North Korea has missed since 1988, when it sat out the Games held in Seoul. The Olympics are massively unpopular in Japan, where some polls have suggested that up to 80 percent of people want the Games to be canceled or postponed again. Japanese health authorities have expressed concerns that variants of the coronavirus are driving what could soon become a fourth wave of the pandemic.
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