Coronavirus: Tokyo 2020 being hit by ‘Olympic curse’, says Japan’s deputy PM

Taro Aso believes the coronavirus outbreak proves there is a 40-year Olympic curse after both the 1940 and 1980 Games were affected in similar ways

Jack de Menezes
Thursday 19 March 2020 10:26
Coronavirus: How has sport been affected?

Japan’s deputy prime minister believes that Tokyo are feeling the effects of a “curse” that strikes the Olympics “every 40 years” as the coronavirus crisis continues to threaten this summer’s Games.

Despite both the International Olympic Committee and Japanese government repeatedly insisting that Tokyo 2020 will go ahead as planned, the coronavirus pandemic looks certain to have a major impact on the Games – whether that is through how athletes are preparing for competition or a potential postponement of the Olympics altogether.

Numerous Japanese ministers and Olympic Committee officials have expressed differing views on what the impact will be in recent weeks, with Japan one of the most heavily-hit Asian countries following the outbreak of Covid-19 in China.

But deputy prime minister Taro Aso believes that the issues currently surrounding Japan’s second hosting of the Games is due to a curse that strikes the Olympics on a regular occurrence.

“It’s a problem that’s happened every 40 years – it’s the cursed Olympics, and that’s a fact,” Aso said.

Aso’s claim stems from the fact that Japan were due to host the Summer and Winter Olympics in 1940, only for the Second World War to force the Games to be cancelled until 1948, meaning Japan had to wait until 1964 before hosting the Summer Olympics. In 1980, countries such as the United States, China and Japan themselves boycotted the Olympics that were being held in the Soviet Union following the invasion of Afghanistan.

Aso has expressed somewhat suspect views in the past, with the deputy prime minister last year blaming women for Japan’s falling population. He later issued an apology for the comments.

It comes after Aso announced this week that Japan will have to consider postponing the Olympic Games if nations decide against sending athletes to the Far East over coronavirus fears as it would “not make sense” to stage a depleted tournament.

“As the prime minister said, it’s desirable to hold the Olympics in an environment where everyone feels safe and happy. But that’s not something Japan alone can decide,” Aso said.

There were further concerns on Thursday about the coronavirus in Japan after it was revealed the Tokyo 2020 organising committee chief Yoshiro Mori attended a meeting last week alongside Kozo Tashima, the deputy president of the Japan Olympic Committee and president of the Japan Football Association, who has revealed he has tested positive for Covid-19.

Mori is 82 years old and is currently battling lung cancer, making him more susceptible to serious illness if he contracts coronavirus, and was sat around 10 metres away from Tashima at a meeting held on 10 March to discuss last year’s Rugby World Cup.

However, Mori’s office told Reuters that he has not shown any symptoms of coronavirus and does not meet the threshold to undergo a test.

“(Mori) goes to hospital three times a week for dialysis, so if he develops a fever or has other symptoms, a doctor will be able to test for it,” a spokesman from Mori’s office said.

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