Tokyo 2020 chief refuses to rule out last-minute Olympic Games cancellation

The games are due to start in just three days but have been beset by delays and protests

Sakura Murakami
Tuesday 20 July 2021 16:34
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Watch live as Olympic Games spokesperson Mark Adams holds news conference

The head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee on Tuesday did not rule out a last-minute cancellation of the global sporting showpiece, which starts on Friday.

Asked at a news conference if the games might still be cancelled due to rising Covid-19 cases, Toshiro Muto said he would keep an eye on infection numbers and hold discussions with organisers if necessary.

“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

The tone from organisers across the past few weeks has been defiant optimism in the face of pressure from Japanese locals and a number of athletes withdrawing from competitions.

Japan has been warned Covid infection rates could double by the end of the games, while last week two South African footballers tested positive in the Olympic village and a Czech volleyball player soon followed.

Major sponsor Toyota then opted to pull all adverts during the games due to the divisive nature of them being held during an ongoing health crisis in the country.

Additional reporting by Reuters

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