North Korea has said it will not participate in the FIFA 2022 World Cup Asian qualifiers in South Korea in June because of coronavirus concerns.
According to South Korean news agency Yonhap, the Korea Football Association (KFA) said the DPR Korea Football Association (PRKFA) had told the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) last Friday it would be withdrawing from the qualifiers.
The PRKFA reportedly cited fears of coronavirus infection among the reasons for its decision not to travel to South Korea next month.
The KFA added the AFC is expected to ask North Korea to reconsider its decision not to travel to South Korea because there is still some time left before the centralised matches kick off there.
North Korea and South Korea are in Group H in the second round of Asian qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup, along with Turkmenistan, Lebanon and Sri Lanka.
Before the onset of the pandemic the two Korean teams drew 0-0 in their first Group H match at a virtually empty Kim Il Sung Stadium in Pyongyang on October 15, 2019.
In response to the pandemic the AFC has given up the previous home-and-away format and decided that five nations in each group are to gather in one country to finish all of their remaining matches from May 31 to June 15.
The AFC said last month that South Korea was chosen as the host of the remaining Group H matches.
South Korea are scheduled to play Turkmenistan on June 3, North Korea on June 7, Sri Lanka on June 11 and Lebanon on June 15.