Japanese officials have denied claims the Tokyo Olympic Games are being cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The 2020 Games have already been delayed once, with the opening ceremony currently scheduled for 23 July this year.
But according to The Times, local officials have conceded the event cannot happen because of COVID-19.
Image: The current opening ceremony is scheduled for 23 July 2021
“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult. I don’t think it’s going to happen,” a senior member of the ruling coalition told the newspaper.
The report claims that Japan is vying to host the Olympics in 2032 instead, with 2024 already awarded to Paris and 2028 to Los Angeles.
But in public, both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the board in Tokyo insist the Games will go ahead this year.
“All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the IOC and the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) are fully focused on hosting the Games this summer,” a statement said on Friday.
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“We hope that daily life can return to normal as soon as possible, and we will continue to make every effort to prepare for a safe and secure Games.”
IOC president Thomas Bach also told the Japanese Kyodo news agency on Thursday: “We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games will not open on 23 July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.”
There is “no plan B”, he added.
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Tokyo has already spent £18.2bn organising the Games, with most of the funds derived from the public purse.
But with a state of emergency declared in response to rising coronavirus cases in the city and surrounding areas this month, there is a chance it may all go to waste.
Public opinion has also turned against the Games, with 80% of those polled recently saying they should be postponed or cancelled.
The Games would involve 11,000 athletes, tens of thousands of coaches, as well as officials, judges and broadcasters. A decision on whether fans should attend is yet to be made.
A further 4,400 athletes are due to take part in the Paralympic Games on 24 August.
But with COVID-19 vaccines being slow to roll out in Japan, organisers would have to rely on testing, social distancing and isolation to keep the Games afloat.
Source : Sky News