North Korea Will Not Compete at the 2017 World Weightlifting Championships

North Korea, officially The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, will not be entering a team in this year’s World Weightlifting Championships in California.

While they were previously expected to participate, Inside The Games reports that they have “passed up a chance to register its greatest sporting triumph on American soil.” Note that the DPRK did not withdraw their team — rather, they declined to enter.

The United States and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations — neither has an embassy in the other’s country — and generally, North Korean nationals have difficulty obtaining visas to enter the U.S. Over on Reddit, USA Weightlifting’s Chief Executive Officer Phil Andrews denied that this is the reason the DPRK isn’t attending:

This was not the reason, we had spent quite a good deal of time specifically making sure DPR Korea had a route to a visa.

If you’ve been following international weightlifting news closely, you might have noticed this is the second time in a little over a month that North Korea has been in the spotlight. The DPRK were slated to host the 2018 IWF Junior World Weightlifting Championships, but the IWF announced on October 1st that the competition will now be held in Uzbekistan.

North Korea’s absence adds to the long list of nations that won’t be competing in this year’s World Weightlifting Championships. While North Korea have voluntarily decided not to attend, the IWF has issued one-year suspensions to Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, China, Moldova, Kazakhstan, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine, countries that are home to many of the world’s top weightlifters. The suspensions, a result of positive doping retests from the 2008 and 2012 Olympics, took effect two weeks ago and will last for one year.

Editor’s Note: BarBend is the Official Media Partner of USA Weightlifting. Unless otherwise noted on collaborative content, the two organizations maintain editorial independence.

Featured image via @iwfnet on Instagram.