The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is set to unban North Korea from participating in the biennial games, potentially opening the door to sports diplomacy at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.
“The IOC Executive Board confirmed that [North Korea’s] suspension will be lifted automatically on the 31st of December, 2022,” Director of Olympic Solidarity and National Olympic Committee Relations James Macleod said during a press conference Tuesday.
The international body previously banned North Korea from participating in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics after Pyongyang declined to send athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, citing concerns over the spread of COVID-19.
North Korea told China it was unable to participate in the 2022 games anyway, blaming “moves of the hostile forces” and the pandemic.
The DPRK has maintained strict border controls against COVID-19 since Jan. 2020, severely limiting the flow of goods and people across its borders. The country has since missed both the Tokyo and Beijing games and the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and it has preemptively withdrawn from the 2023 AFC Asian Cup.