With the coronavirus spreading rapidly in Japan, the Tokyo Games chief executive said on Friday that he can’t promise that the postponed Olympics will be held next year — even after the delay of 16 months.
“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” said Toshiro Muto, the Tokyo organizing committee CEO, speaking at a news remotely conducted conference through an interpreter. “We’re certainly not in a position to give you a clear answer.”
The reason for this uncertainty might be the sudden rise in the number of coronavirus positive cases in Japan. The country has witnessed over 5,000 cases as well as 100 deaths.
This week, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed an emergency declaration to combat the virus, putting the nation under restrictions after it initially appeared to have prevented the spread.
Abe was widely criticized for his slow action against the COVID-19 pandemic. Opposition political leaders even suggested he downplayed the viruses’ severity and have claimed it may have to do something with holding the Olympics this year.
The Tokyo Olympics were postponed last month with a new date of July 23, 2021, followed by the Paralympics on August 24.
“We have made the decision to postpone the games by one year,” Muto added.
“So this means that all we can do is work hard to prepare for the games. We sincerely hope that come next year mankind will manage to overcome the coronavirus crisis.”
— #TokyoOlympics (@NBCOlympics) April 9, 2020
Muto was also quipped on whether there were any alternative plans to 2021.
“Rather than think about alternative plans, we should put in all of our effort,” he replied, “Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can development treatments, medicines and vaccines.”
Muto also talked about insurance policies for the Olympics.
“Tokyo 2020 has taken out several insurance policies,” he said, “But whether the postponement of the games qualifies as an event that is covered is not clear yet.”