North Korea has chosen not to compete in the Beijing 2022 Olympics and Paralympics in protest of the US's efforts to sabotage "the successful opening of the Winter Games," state-run media said Friday.
State media blamed the inability to attend the next Winter Olympics in Beijing on "hostile forces" and the global epidemic. They accused the US and its allies of attempting to undermine the Games' success.
North Korea's Olympic Committee and Ministry of Physical Culture and Sports wrote to Chinese colleagues, including the Beijing Olympics organizing committee, expressing their support for the Games despite their absence, according to the KCNA news agency.
North Korea was suspended from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) until the end of 2022 — meaning it would have missed the Beijing Winter Games regardless of Friday's announcement — for failing to send a team to last year's Tokyo Olympics due to COVID-19 concerns.
"We are unable to participate in the Olympics due to hostile forces' moves and the global pandemic, but we will fully support our Chinese comrades in their efforts to organize a splendid and wonderful Olympic festival," the letter stated, according to KCNA.
The letter condemned the US and its partners for their actions, calling them "an insult to the spirit of the international Olympic Charter and a base act of attempting to discredit China's international image."
It continued by saying that while preparations for the Beijing Olympics, which begin Feb. 4, are proceeding "satisfactorily" due to "positive efforts" by Chinese President Xi Jinping's leadership, "the US and its vassal forces are becoming ever more covert in their moves against China aimed at preventing the Olympics' successful opening," KCNA said.
North Korea has condemned "those moves, branding them as an insult to the spirit of the international Olympic Charter and a base act of attempting to discredit China's international image," the news agency reported.
However, Pyongyang has pledged to work with China to ensure the Beijing Games' success, according to KCNA.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un extended an olive branch to South Korea in a 2018 New Year's speech, stating that his country would participate in the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics held by the South in February.
His younger sister and close aide, Kim Yo Jong, was a member of a high-ranking North Korean delegation to the Olympics, becoming the first member of her grandpa and the country's founder, Kim Il Sung's immediate family, to visit South Korea.
However, this time, the US and several other governments, including the United Kingdom and Australia, have launched a diplomatic boycott of the Beijing Olympics in response to rising condemnation of China's alleged human rights violations.
The White House declared in December that US government officials would boycott the 2022 Winter Olympics in protest of China's human rights "atrocitie," while allowing US athletes to compete in Beijing.
Since then, several additional countries, including the United Kingdom, Australia, and Canada, have initiated diplomatic boycotts.
Additionally, North Korea stated that the global distribution of COVID-19 prompted it to withdraw from the Beijing Olympics.
North Korea's population is believed to be particularly susceptible to the spread of infectious diseases, owing mainly to chronic shortages of food and medical supplies caused by economic sanctions to thwart the country's nuclear and ballistic missile goals.
It prohibited foreigners from entering during the 2003 severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, epidemic and the 2014 West African Ebola outbreak.