The Japanese Prime Minister of Shinzo Abe stated on Wednesday that it is going to be impossible to host the Tokyo Olympics next unless the coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic is contained. The International Olympic Committee along with the Japanese government postponed the event in the last month until July 2021 due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
As the infection rate of the worldwide pandemic is increasing and the experts suggesting a vaccine is also a long way to go, questions are being raised about whether the event may get delayed further.
Tokyo confirmed 112 new infections on Tuesday
"We've been saying the Olympic and Paralympic Games must be held in a complete form, in that athletes and spectators can all participate safely. It would be impossible to hold the Games in such a complete form unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained," said Abe. He was replying to a query from an opposition lawmaker whether Tokyo could host the Games next year, after this year's delay caused by the pandemic.
Tokyo confirmed 112 new infections on Tuesday, said national broadcaster NHK. Numbers for Wednesday were not yet available. The national tally stands at 13,895 infections, including 413 deaths, according to NHK. That tally is still low compared to other nations, but critics say Japan is not doing enough testing to reveal the scope of a problem that has driven some hospitals to the brink.
"When we look at what we face now, we must brace for a protracted battle against the pandemic ... We will be in close contact with the IOC, the Tokyo organising committee and the Tokyo gubernatorial government," said Abe. He added that the Olympics "must be held in a way that shows the world has won its battle against the coronavirus pandemic. Otherwise, it will be hard to hold the Games."
The comments echoed statements made by other senior Japanese officials earlier this week. Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori told a sports daily Nikkan Sports on Tuesday that the Games would be "scrapped" if they could not take place in 2021. Also on Tuesday, the head of the Japan Medical Association (JMA), Yoshitake Yokokura, told a news briefing that "unless an effective vaccine is developed, I expect hosting the Olympics will be difficult".
(With agency inputs)