Tokyo 2020 chief dismisses any chance of cancelling or postponing this summer’s delayed Olympics


The president of Tokyo 2020 has insisted the Olympic Games will ‘100 per cent’ be going ahead despite calls from the public for them to be cancelled.

Japan is currently in the midst of a fourth coronavirus wave, with 10 areas of the country including the capital under a state of emergency until later this month.

Public opinion polls have constantly shown citizens in favour of a cancellation, and people have even taken to the streets to demonstrate their disapproval and anger at current plans for the Games to go ahead.

The president of Tokyo 2020 Sheiko Hashimoto has insisted the Olympic Games will ‘100 per cent’ be going ahead

The country is in the midst of a fourth coronavirus wave just 50 days before the Games begin

The country is in the midst of a fourth coronavirus wave just 50 days before the Games begin

But committee president Seiko Hashimoto insists at worst the Games – which could attract up to 90,000 athletes, coaches, media and officials from overseas – will take place behind closed doors.

‘I believe that the possibility of these Games going on is 100 per cent that we will do this,’ she told BBC Sport just 50 days before the start of the opening ceremony.

‘The question right now is how are we going to have an even more safe and secure Games.

‘The Japanese people are feeling very insecure and at the same time probably feel some frustration at us talking about the Olympics and I think that is giving rise to more voices opposing having the Games in Tokyo.

Ten areas are under a state of emergency and public opinion polls favour a cancellation

Ten areas are under a state of emergency and public opinion polls favour a cancellation

People have even taken to the streets to demonstrate their disapproval and anger at plans

People have even taken to the streets to demonstrate their disapproval and anger at plans

‘The biggest challenge will be how we can control and manage the flow of people. If an outbreak should happen during the Games times that amounts to a crisis or an emergency situation then I believe we must be prepared to have these Games without any spectators.’

No international fans will be allowed to attend this summer’s Olympics or Paralympics due to coronavirus measures, a decision Hashimoto described as ‘very painful.’

But it came amid a new wave of infections in Japan at the start of April, with some of the areas in a state of emergency, facing restrictions until 20 June.

The country only began vaccinating its population in February, which is later than most other developed nations.

And as a result it is estimated that only about three per cent of people have received both doses of the vaccine.

Japan has managed to avoided the large-scale infections suffered by many other countries

Japan has managed to avoided the large-scale infections suffered by many other countries

Japan's rollout of the coronavirus vaccine has also been slower than most developed nations

Japan’s rollout of the coronavirus vaccine has also been slower than most developed nations

While Japan has managed to avoided the large-scale infections suffered by many other countries, the latest outbreak has seen a worrying rise in the number of severe Covid-19 cases.

On Tuesday – the latest day of recorded statistics –  the UK’s daily new confirmed cases per million people stood at 48.73, compared with Japan’s 26.25. 

More than 746,000 cases have been recorded and more than 13,000 deaths in Japan, but the Asahi newspaper claims Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is showing his determination to push ahead with the Games as he intends to call a snap election upon the conclusion of the Paralympics.

Olympic chiefs however remain undecided if Japanese fans will be allowed to attend the Games, with areas like Ota City, which are set to host Olympic training or events, worried they will spread strains of the virus and heap further pressure on medical resources.

Hashimoto’s comments however come just a day after the country’s top medical adviser warned against holding the Games next month, insisting it is ‘not normal’ in the current Covid climate.

Shigeru Omi said: ‘It is not normal to hold the event in the current pandemic situation.

Reports claim Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga intends to call a snap election after the Games

Reports claim Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga intends to call a snap election after the Games

Japan's top medical adviser has also warned against holding the Olympics in Tokyo

Japan’s top medical adviser has also warned against holding the Olympics in Tokyo

‘If you are going to do it in such a situation, it is the duty of the organiser to make the scale of the event as small as possible and strengthen the management system as much as possible.

‘If we are going to hold the Olympics, it is natural that the organising committee will make the utmost efforts to minimise infection, not just leave it to the national government, local governments and the people.

‘It’s only when it’s clear why it’s going to be held that the citizens are motivated to overcome this special situation. It’s extremely important for the people involved to state a solid vision and reason.

‘If your favourite player wins a gold medal, you may raise your voice and express joy, and then everyone may say, “Let’s have a drink”.

‘It is our expert opinion that it is difficult for the general public to take the trouble to increase the risk of spreading the infection as much as possible.’



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