IOC to reallocate N.Korea's places for Tokyo Games

The International Olympic Committee has decided to reallocate North Korea's qualification spots for the Tokyo Olympics following the country's withdrawal from the Games.

The IOC Executive Board held an online meeting on Tuesday to discuss issues involving North Korea and the Refugee Olympic Team.

In April, North Korea's Olympic Committee announced it would withdraw from the Tokyo Games in order to protect its athletes from the coronavirus pandemic.

IOC spokesperson Mark Adams held an online news conference after the meeting.

He said that the IOC continued negotiations with North Korea to urge the country to reverse the decision, but the committee could not wait any longer, with less than 50 days to go before the opening of the event.

The spokesperson said that the executive board made the decision to respect the interest of athletes who are next in line and can't wait any longer in their preparations.

Two members of the Refugee Olympic Team, Yusra Mardini from Syria and Abdullah Sediqi from Afghanistan, also took part in the news conference.

Sediqi expressed excitement for being selected for the team. The taekwondo athlete noted that he wants to do his best and show the world that even a refugee can make his dream come true.

Mardini, who will compete in swimming, expressed her gratitude toward Japan for making preparations for the Games, as she was unsure a year ago whether they could really take place.