IOC suspends North Korea over Tokyo absence

The International Olympic Committee has decided to suspend North Korea's Olympic committee from the 2022 Beijing Olympics over its failure to participate in the Tokyo Games.

IOC President Thomas Bach held a news conference after the IOC's online Executive Board meeting on Wednesday.

Bach said North Korea's refusal to send a team to Tokyo was a violation of the Olympic Charter which obliges members to participate by sending athletes.

North Korea withdrew its team from the Tokyo Olympics in April, citing concerns about COVID-19.

Bach said North Korea's Olympic committee would not receive financial support from the IOC during the period of suspension which runs until the end of 2022.

He said individual athletes from North Korea who qualify to compete in Beijing could be allowed to participate based on a separate decision by the IOC's executive board in the future.

Bach also pledged that the IOC will continue trying to assist Afghanistan athletes and the members of the Olympic community who are still living in the country to receive humanitarian visas and to leave the country.

He stressed that the 2020 Tokyo Games were safely held despite the pandemic.

Bach praised efforts made by participants amid the pandemic, saying they obeyed the anti-infection regulations which were listed in a "playbook" outlining coronavirus countermeasures.

He said the IOC plans to publish a similar playbook, probably in October, which will be applicable for the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. But he suggested that the Chinese authorities will decide whether to allow spectators at stadiums.

The organizing committee of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics said more than 1.01 million coronavirus tests were conducted under their supervision. The committee said the number of confirmed cases was 312 at the Athletes' Village, competition venues and other places during both events. The rate of positive results was 0.03 percent.