The repressive communist government of North Korea announced on Friday through state media channels that it would not participate in the 2020 Beijing Winter Olympics, citing condemnation of its ally China by “hostile forces” as the reason.
In its summary of the letter Pyongyang sent to the Chinese Communist Party, The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) — the official state newswire of North Korea — did not mention that the country could not formally participate, anyway: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) in September banned North Korea from playing the Beijing Games. IOC bans are notoriously limited, however, allowing individual North Korean athletes to participate but not under the official flag of the country. Russia – suspended for a staggeringly pervasive doping scandal implicating hundreds of athletes – currently participates in this form, sending athletes who play without waving their flag.
Human rights activists have spent much of the past year urging countries to make the same move as North Korea and boycott the Beijing Games over China’s long list of human rights atrocities against both its own people and colonized ethnic minorities in Tibet and East Turkistan. Evidence shows the Chinese Communist Party is currently engaging in — among other crimes — genocidal crimes such as infanticide and forced sterilization, slavery, torture, and the use of political prisoners for live organ harvesting.
Opponents of the Beijing Winter Olympics also note that China, responsible for the ongoing Chinese coronavirus pandemic, is currently experiencing its worst outbreak of the disease since the pandemic began in Wuhan in 2019, resulting in upwards of 120 million people trapped in some form of lockdown measure nationwide and potentially threatening the wellbeing of athletes.
North Korea had nothing critical to say about its most important political ally in its announcement that it would not have a presence in Beijing.
“[P]reparations for the 24th Winter Olympics are being satisfactorily made thanks to the positive efforts and devoted struggle made by the Chinese party, government and people under the correct leadership of General Secretary Xi Jinping despite the worldwide health crisis,” KCNA reported in its paraphrase of the letter to Beijing. “However, the U.S. and its vassal forces are getting evermore undisguised in their moves against China aimed at preventing the successful opening of the Olympics.”
“The DPRK [North Korea] Olympic Committee and the DPRK Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports resolutely reject those moves,” the statement explained, “branding them as an insult to the spirit of the international Olympic Charter and as a base act of attempting to disgrace the international image of China.”
“Saying that we could not take part in the Olympics due to the hostile forces’ moves and the worldwide pandemic,” KCNA continued, “but we would fully support the Chinese comrades in all their work to hold splendid and wonderful Olympic festival, the letter expressed the belief that the fraternal Chinese people and sportspersons would successfully open the Beijing Winter Olympics.”
Speaking to reporters during a regular press briefing on Friday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin responded warmly to the letter, expressing “understanding” and a willingness on China’s part to “continue to strengthen exchanges and cooperation” with North Korea.
North Korea is one of the world’s few regimes with a claim to possibly being more repressive than China. The reign of terror of the Kim family, currently led by dictator Kim Jong-un, has been characterized by widespread executions for “crimes” like watching foreign movies, the use of labor camps to imprison generations of Koreans, pervasive rape and other sexual crimes, and, like China, the enslavement of its own people.
The Kim regime used the last Winter Olympics – held in PyeongChang, South Korea – as a major propaganda event, sending a delegation of hundreds of officials despite its meager athletic presence and using Kim’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, to attract bizarre positive press from American corporate media. North Korea’s entry into those Games preceded the first-ever meeting between a leader of the North Korean communist regime and a president of the United States, as well as a propaganda push that included several visits by Kim to China.
North Korea’s ban from the 2022 Beijing Olympics is a result of its decision not to participate in the 2020 Tokyo Summer Games, abruptly withdrawing on the grounds that it did not want to risk importing cases of Chinese coronavirus.
“IOC President Thomas Bach said at the time that individual athletes from North Korea who qualify to compete in Beijing could still be accepted. There is no word of that happening,” the Associated Press reported in September.
At press time, North Korea is the only country to commit to not sending athletes to the Beijing Olympics, despite calls for boycotts from the free world. Some countries, including the United States, announced a move they branded a “diplomatic boycott” – not a boycott, but a decision to participate in the Games without sending politicians to attend the ceremonial events of the Games. China scoffed at President Joe Biden for his “diplomatic boycott,” using state media commentators to note that the Chinese government never invited any American politicians to the Olympics, so they technically could not boycott if they wanted to.
Last month, the Biden administration confirmed it is not even doing that and American diplomats have, in fact, applied for visas to attend the Beijing Olympics.
Protesters from the communities most repressed by the Chinese Communist Party – Tibetans, Uyghurs, Southern Mongolians, and others – organized for a “Global Day of Action” on Tuesday, which marked one month before the beginning of the Games. In New York, protesters gathered in front of NBC Studios, the network that will broadcast the event in the United States, urging the broadcaster to reconsider.