Japan denies claims Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled due to Covid-19

Japanese officials remain adamant the Olympics will go ahead this summer amid mounting speculation that the Tokyo Games will be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Times, citing an unnamed senior member of the ruling coalition, claimed on Thursday that the government’s focus was now on securing the Games for Tokyo in the next available year, 2032.

The winter wave of the virus is said to have rendered staging the Games, already delayed by a year, unfeasible with an opinion poll in Japan revealing that 80% of the population are against the Olympics going ahead.

‘No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,’ the source said. ‘Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.’

Publicly, however, Japan’s politicians and organising committee are insistent that the Games will go ahead as planned. 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.

‘We will clearly deny the report,’ Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai said in a press conference.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee, meanwhile, also denied the report, saying in a statement its partners including 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 rumours that the Tokyo Olympic Games will be cancelled, rumours 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 23, 2021.’

The U.S. and Canadian committees wrote on Twitter they had not received any information suggesting the Games would not happen as planned.

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