Olympics-IOC reallocates North Korea's qualification spots for Tokyo Games

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (Reuters) - North Korea's qualification places for next month's Tokyo Olympics were reallocated on Tuesday after it decided not to attend the Games, the International Olympic Committee said.

North Korea said in April it would not be attending the Olympics due to coronavirus concerns, dealing a blow to the IOC's efforts to have 206 national Olympic committees, including both North and South Korea, at the Games in Japan.

"In April they (North Korea) held a general assembly and there was a decision at the time," James Macleod, the IOC's director of Olympic solidarity, told a virtual news conference.

"The problem was they did not inform us officially. We had a lot of ongoing discussions on reasons and to offer them as many assurances as possible."

It will be the first time North Korea has missed a summer Olympics since it boycotted the Seoul games in 1988.

"We would like 206 national Olympic committees to take part in the Games," Macleod said. "It got to the point where we had to make a decision on the qualified places. So there was a decision today by the (IOC) executive board."

"Today we needed to reallocate those four places for fairness to the other athletes."

The Olympics have already been postponed by a year and preparations continue amid global concerns over how organisers can keep volunteers, athletes, officials and the Japanese public safe when they begin on July 23 after a fourth wave of infections.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Toby Davis)