North Korea has informed the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) that it will not participate in the Under-23 (U-23) Asian Cup soccer qualifiers starting next month.”North Korea sent a letter to withdraw its participation in the AFC U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers on Nov. 4,” an Asian Football Confederation (AFC) official told Yonhap News Agency by phone on Nov. 11. “After an internal review, it was finalized that North Korea will not participate in the tournament. The letter did not specify the reason for the withdrawal. “Later in the day, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported that the AFC said in response to a written inquiry from RFA that the North Korean Football Association had recently notified it of its intention to withdraw from the U-23 Asian Cup qualifiers .The AFC said it would “contact the North Korean Football Association” about the timing or reasons for the withdrawal. North Korea was initially scheduled to face Australia next month, followed by Tajikistan and Laos in the qualifiers in the Tajik capital Dushanbe .However, the games were rescheduled due to North Korea’s absence. The Tajikistan Football Association also announced on its website that it had changed the schedule from a four-nation qualifier to a single match between Tajikistan, Australia, and Laos .The U-23 Asian Cup, which will be held in Qatar next April and May, also serves as a soccer qualifier for the Paris Olympics, meaning North Korea will not be able to compete in men’s soccer in Paris .North Korea qualified for the U-23 Asian Cup in 2020, but was eliminated in the group stage and did not participate in the 2022 tournament .North Korea’s only other Olympic men’s soccer appearance was in Montreal in 1976. They advanced to the quarterfinals .Earlier, North Korea reportedly informed the AFC of its intention to participate in the second Asian qualifying round for the 2026 World Cup. North Korea’s first game in the second qualifying round is a home match against Syria on November 16.”North Korea’s inclusion in the draw for the second round of World Cup qualifiers was made possible by the North Korean side sending a letter of participation to FIFA,” said an AFC official. “However, as they have withdrawn from the AFC U-23 Asian Cup, we will have to wait and see whether they will participate 스포츠토토존 in the World Cup qualifiers.” North Korea has been absent from the international sports scene since the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, but could return to action at the Hangzhou Asian Games in September. The North Korean men’s soccer team is in Group F at the Hangzhou Asian Games, where it will play Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, and Chinese Taipei. South Korea is in Group E and could meet North Korea in the round of 16 if they finish first and second.