North Korean state television has aired its first coverage of the Olympics, two days after the closing ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Local reports said that Korean Central Television (KCTV) aired 70 minutes of a women’s football match between the UK and Chile this week — the match actually took place in Tokyo on 21 July. The march was aired without any commentary and with low resolution.
The Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea has previously aired the Olympic Games after its opening ceremony. However, it remains unclear how Pyongyang was able to get the footage of the Games this year.
Yonhap also reported that, “it is expected to air another match between China and Brazil later in the day, according to the TV schedule.”
North Korea decided not to send its athletes to Tokyo for the Games as it feared the spread of Covid-19. The country has maintained that it has no cases of Covid-19 so far, but experts have cast doubts over that assertion.
This is the first time that North Korea has not sent its delegation to the Olympics since 1988 — the year it boycotted the Seoul Games during the Cold War.
Meanwhile, reports said that North Korea’s delayed airing of the Olympics appears to reflect its decision not to send its athletes to the event. The state television had usually aired the Games within a few days of the opening ceremony.
KCTV covered the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in Brazil just four days after the opening ceremony.
North Korea’s decision not to send athletes to Tokyo this year thwarted hopes South Korea would have an opportunity to engage with the country. Analysts had predicted that senior delegates might be able to discuss issues beyond sports.
In 2018, North and South Korea had sent a joint team to the Winter Olympics which led to a series of historic summits and initiation of diplomacy between the two countries. It was also the first time that Kim Yo-jong, sister of North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, attended the opening ceremony of the Games. She was the first member of the Kim family to cross into South Korea.
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