Japanese minister casts fresh doubt over Olympics as he claims decision on delayed Tokyo Games ‘could go either way’ with record Covid infection levels… but Games committee insist idea of postponing them a second time has never been discussed
- The Olympics may not go ahead this summer as planned as the pandemic rages
- The record infection levels in Japan has raised fresh doubts about the Games
- 77 per cent Japanese public voted for the games to be cancelled or postponed
- The tourism and money of the games is key for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga
The once-delayed Tokyo Olympics may not go ahead this summer as planned as the COVID-19 pandemic rages, a Japanese cabinet minister said on Thursday – although the Games’ organising committee insist the idea of postponing the games again has never been discussed.
‘We need to do the best we can to prepare for the Games at this moment, but it could go either way,’ Taro Kono, administrative and regulatory reform minister, said in an interview at the Reuters Next conference.
A global COVID-19 resurgence, including record infection levels in Japan, has raised fresh doubts about the Games, which were postponed by one year in 2020. The government on Wednesday expanded its state of emergency well beyond the Tokyo region.
The Olympics may not go ahead this summer as planned as the Covid-19 pandemic rages
The Japanese public’s appetite for the sporting extravaganza has waned, with 77% of respondents in a survey this week saying it should be cancelled or postponed.
However, Masa Takaya, a spokesperson for Tokyo 2020, said the prospect of doing so again had not even been mentioned.
‘To be very clear, we have never discussed another postponement of the Games,’ Takaya told Sky Sports.
‘We have 100 per cent concentration and focus on the delivery of a safe and secure Games this summer.
Taro Kono, administrative and regulatory reform minister, says the decision may go either way
‘The Covid situation is of course still an ongoing issue for everyone in the world but we will deliver the Games this year, starting July 23.’
The Games – and the tourism dollars they bring – are also a top priority for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Suga and others have said repeatedly the decision whether to go ahead rests with the International Olympic Committee and that their agreement to continue preparations stands.
Yoshihide Suga has stated the decision rests with the International Olympic Committee
‘Anything is possible, but as the host of the Games we need to do whatever we can, so that when it’s a Go, we can have a good Olympic Games,’ Kono said.
‘The Olympic Committee must be thinking about Plan B, Plan C. But the situation is not easy.’
The U.S.-educated Kono, a former foreign and defence minister known for his outspoken views, has been open about his ambition to be prime minister.