December 03, 2021

Absence of North Korean women’s soccer team at Olympics a loss for diplomacy

Sports diplomacy advocates lament loss of key opportunity for engagement with North Korea as Summer Games begin Friday

North Korea has had one of the most competitive and successful women’s soccer teams for decades, winning the Asian Football Confederation’s Women’s Asian Cup three times and the Asian Games another three times.

Yet the team, which also reached the quarterfinals of the 2007 FIFA Women’s World Cup, will be a conspicuous no-show as the Tokyo Olympics kick off today, and experts say the team’s absence represents a missed opportunity to engage with North Korea following the incredible diplomatic success of the 2018 Winter Games.