Tokyo Olympics head once again confirm to world that postponed games will open in just over three months and not be canceled despite surging COVID-19 cases in Japan.
Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto was asked at a news conference if there were any conditions under which the Olympics would be canceled.
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The question comes as the general secretary of ruling LDP political party, Toshihiro Nikai, raised the possibility the day before.
“There are a variety of concerns but as the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee we are not thinking about canceling the games,” Hashimoto said.
Nikai, the No. 2 person in the LDP party, was asked on Thursday in an interview if cancellation was still an option.
“Of course,” he replied, adding that if the Tokyo Games caused a surge in infections “there would be no meaning to having the Olympics.”
Nikai tried to backtrack later, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga issued a statement Thursday saying there is “no change to the government position to do everything to achieve safe and secure Olympics.”
Hashimoto acknowledged Nikai’s concern and suggested it was probably shared by the Japanese public. Polls show as many as 80% in Japan oppose holding the Olympics during the pandemic.
“The fact that he (Nikai) is concerned is a point that we need to take seriously as Tokyo 2020,” she said. “His comment has reminded us of how tedious it was for us to feel confident or be fully prepared for delivering the games.”
“While the determination is encouraging, there has been a lack of transparency about the benefits and risk, and international mass gathering events such as Tokyo 2020 are still neither safe nor secure,” the editorial said.
On Thursday, the government minister in charge of Japan’s vaccine rollout, Taro Kono, said even if the Olympics go on, there may be no fans of any kind in the venues. He said it’s likely that the Olympics will have to be held in empty venues, particularly as cases surge across the country.
The vaccine rollout in Japan has been slow with less than 1% having had the shot. The numbers will be better in three months, but will contrast sharply with non-Japanese entering the country.