Japan and the International Olympic Committee have decided that the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled in July, will take place without international fans to the disappointment of the Moon Jae-in administration. The South Korean presidential office Cheong Wa Dae was going to take the games as an opportunity to improve its relations with Japan and to encourage dialogue between the United States and North Korea.
“A ban on overseas spectators has been expected given the grave situation over COVID-19,” said a source from Cheong Wa Dae on Sunday. “The government will continue its effort to bring peace on the Korean Peninsula regardless of the decision.” Asked about a joint march at the opening ceremony and a unified team of the two Koreas, the source said nothing has yet been decided. In his speech on March 1, South Korean President Moon Jae-in said that the Tokyo Olympics could open up conversations between South Korea and Japan, South and North Korea, and the United States and North Korea, adding that Seoul would cooperate for the successful holding of the events.
Indeed, the South Korean ruling Democratic Party of Korea had worked continuously to build momentum for peace building on the Korean Peninsula through the Tokyo Olympics. National Intelligence Service Director Suh Hoon met former U.S. National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien in October 2020 in the United States and emphasized the importance of the upcoming Olympics, while Rep. Kim Jin-pyo of the ruling party and the Japan-Korea Parliamentarians’ Union stated that Japan was willing to invite North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to the Olympic games following a meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in November 2020.
With restrictions including a ban on overseas fans, however, it could be difficult for high-ranking officials to meet during the Olympic games. “A handful of high-ranking officials of Washington or Pyongyang might be invited to make the games a successful event,” said a source from the ruling party. “It is likely that North Korea is considering sending its athletes as the Olympics provides an opportunity to meet with the United States.”