IOC Suspends North Korea from Beijing Winter Olympics
North Korea athletes during the opening ceremony at Rio Olympics (Pic: Twitter, nbcnews).
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) suspended North Korea till the end of 2022. The suspension, which was announced on Wednesday, came as punishment for refusing to send a team to the Tokyo Olympics. North Korea had opted out of the summer Games citing the Covid-19 pandemic. It would mean athletes from North Korea will not be able to take part in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics.
IOC president Thomas Bach, while announcing the suspension, said the North Korean national Olympic body will also now forfeit money it was due from previous Olympics. The amount — potentially running into millions of dollars — had been withheld because of international sanctions.
The North Korean Olympic committee is suspended through 2022 and the exclusion could be extended. However, individual athletes from North Korea who qualify to compete in Beijing could still be accepted by a separate decision, Bach added. North Korea sent 10 competitors to the 2018 Winter Games, none in 2014 at Sochi, Russia, and two to Vancouver in 2010.
North Korea withdrew its team in April from the Tokyo Olympics citing a need to protect athletes from the “world public health crisis caused by COVID-19”.
“They were violating the Olympic Charter and did not fulfill their obligation as stated in the Olympic Charter to participate,” Bach said at a news conference after an IOC executive board meeting on Wednesday.
Bach also confirmed that none of the athletes representing Afghanistan at the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics -- five in the Olympics and two Para-athletes -- returned home.
"As a result of all our efforts, all athletes from Afghanistan, who participated at the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 are outside the country," he said.
"Two winter sports athletes are also outside the country and continue training, hoping to qualify for Beijing 2022.
"Furthermore, a significant number of members of the Olympic community in Afghanistan received humanitarian visas and could leave the country."
He said around a hundred people in Afghanistan had "enjoyed the benefits of their efforts" and that the IOC was continuing to assist others who are trying to flee the country.
(With additions from PTI/AP)
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