Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee’s president, Yoshiro Mori has on Tuesday said the event will be canceled if the coronavirus pandemic isn’t brought under control by 2021.
The Games which was originally scheduled to start July 24, 2020, has been scheduled to open on July 23, 2021, due to the global pandemic.
According to the President, the pandemic which has already forced a year-long delay of the Games will not be postponed further if the virus remains a threat till then.
In an interview with Japan’s Nikkan Sports daily, Mori when asked if the Olympics could be delayed until 2022 if the pandemic remains a threat next year, he replied;
No. In that case, it’s cancelled.
Mori noted the Games had been cancelled previously only during wartime and compared the battle against coronavirus to “fighting an invisible enemy”.
He added that;
If the virus is successfully contained, we’ll hold the Olympics in peace next summer. Mankind is betting on it.
Masa Takaya, a Tokyo 2020 spokesman, declined to comment on possible cancellation of the Games, telling reporters that Mori’s remarks were based on “the chairman’s own thoughts”.
Japanese organizers and the International Olympic Committee, under heavy pressure from athletes and international sports federations, agreed in March to a year-long postponement of the Games.
Organizers and Japanese officials have said the delayed Olympics will be a chance to showcase the world’s triumph over the coronavirus, but questions have arisen about whether even a year’s postponement is sufficient.
On Tuesday, the head of Japan Medical Association, Yoshitake Yokokura warned it would be “exceedingly difficult” to hold the Games next year if a vaccine has not been found.
Yokokura stated that;
I would not say that they should not be held, but it would be exceedingly difficult.
And last week, a Japanese medical expert who has criticized the country’s response to the coronavirus warned that he was “very pessimistic” that the postponed Olympics can be held in 2021.
However, Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University said;
To be honest with you I don’t think the Olympics is likely to be held next year.
But Tokyo 2020 spokesman Takaya countered that even medical experts said it was too early to make a judgment on such a possibility.
Mori in the interview with Japan’s Nikkan Sports also said organizers were considering holding joint opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics and the Paralympics in an effort to cut costs.
Under the plan, the Paralympics would join the Olympic opening ceremony on July 23, and the Olympic closing ceremony would be integrated into the Paralympics closing event in September.
But Mori admitted that Tokyo organizers had not yet obtained the consent of the IOC and their Paralympic counterparts on that plan.
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