Japan doubled down on its commitment to host the Tokyo Olympics this year and flatly denied reports on Friday of a possible cancellation, in a move that is unlikely to temper public fears of holding the event during a global pandemic, CNBC writes.
Though much of Japan is under a state of emergency due to a third wave of Covid-19 infections, Tokyo organizers have consistently vowed to press ahead with the Games scheduled to open on July 23 after having been postponed in March last year.
A Japanese government spokesman said there was “no truth” to a report in The Times that the government had privately concluded the Tokyo Olympics would have to be canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Times, citing an unnamed senior member of the ruling coalition, said the government’s focus was now on securing the Games for Tokyo in the next available year, 2032.
“We will clearly deny the report,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai said in a press conference.
In a rare move, the government issued a statement to shoot down the report, saying it was working closely with the International Olympic Committee and other parties in preparation for a safe and secure Games.
The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee also denied the report, saying in a statement its partners including the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee were “fully focused” on hosting the games as scheduled.
“It is very disappointing to see that The Times is developing such a tabloid-like story with an untrustworthy source,” a Tokyo 2020 source told Reuters.
“The national government is fully committed to delivering a safe and secure Games, and we are always encouraged by their dedications,” the source said.
In early international reactions, the Australian and United States Olympic Committees said they were preparing for the Games as planned.
“Unfortunately, I need to address unfounded rumors that the Tokyo Olympic Games will be canceled, rumors that only create more anxiety for athletes,” Matt Carroll, the chief executive of the Australian committee, told reporters in Sydney.“The Tokyo Games are on. The flame will be lit on July 2 3, 2021.”
The Australian committee is run by the IOC’s point man for the Tokyo Games, John Coates.
The U.S. and Canadian committees wrote on Twitter they had not received any information suggesting the Games would not happen as planned.