Source Says Japan Has Given Up on Tokyo Olympics

Source Says Japan Has Given Up on Tokyo Olympics

The Japanese government has started weighing the possibility of staging this summer's Tokyo Olympics without spectators to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, several officials said Friday.

The Japanese government said that it "clearly denies" The Times report, saying there is "No truth to report of possible Olympics cancellation".

"We clearly deny the report", Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai told a news conference.

Entry restrictions for athletes looking to compete in the Tokyo Games had been eased in November, but were tightened again earlier this month after the central government declared a state of emergency in parts of the greater Tokyo metropolitan area.

"Under the current measures being implemented, Tokyo will not likely reach that level until the end of March", Ozaki said.

If Japan fails to flatten the curve, the emergency could be extended, possibly sealing the fate of the games.

"The Tokyo Games are definitely on".

The official façade of confidence has been showing cracks, following expressions of doubt from political and sports heavyweights.

Previously, senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound had suggested athletes should be at the front of the line for vaccines to boost the chances of the Olympics going ahead, though this prompted a backlash from the public, health experts and athletes themselves.

"If any country can handle a logistical challenge it is Japan", he said.

The long path to Tokyo's second Summer Games has been littered with obstacles, from bid bribery allegations to fears over the summer heat. "This is why I'm saying, safety first, and no taboo in the discussion to ensure safety", Bach said. "We should definitely push ahead, as that is the only option for us".

In early worldwide reactions, both the Australian and United States Olympic Committees said on Friday they remained focused on preparing for the Games as now scheduled.

Rising COVID cases have Japanese officials bracing for a postponement, after longest-serving International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said the surging virus was "the ongoing elephant in the room" when it came to the Games taking place.

He has seen his approval ratings fizzle over the perception that he has bungled the response to the pandemic, prioritizing politics and corporate profits over people's health.

Games organisers have so far refused to comment on the report.

Later, Japan Olympic Committee head Yasuhiro Yamashita told Reuters the report was false and "a fabrication". "Take them there safely, give them the best opportunities for success, and then bring them safely back home to Australia where we can celebrate the games".

"We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo", he said in Kyodo News.

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