Reports Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled are 'categorically untrue'

22 January 2021, 05:50 | Updated: 22 January 2021, 12:50

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has denied reports that the Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has denied reports that the Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

The International Olympic Committee has dismissed a report the Tokyo Olympics would be cancelled this year, describing it as "categorically untrue".

The denial follows a reports in The Times newspaper that the government had "privately concluded" the Tokyo Olympics will need to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.

A spokesperson added: "The IOC is fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year."

In a separate statement, the IPC said: "We believe that with the robust measures and plans we have in place, the Games can and will go ahead safely."

Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai also denied reports the Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled, saying they are "fully focused" on hosting the games this summer.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga last week told the nation's Parliament hosting the games would be "a proof of human victory against the coronavirus."

Japan recently declared a state of emergency as the number of Covid-19 cases increase, and recent polls have shown that 80% of people in Japan think either the games will not, or should not go ahead under current circumstances.

But Mr Suga said: "We will have full anti-infection measures in place and proceed with preparation with a determination to achieve the Games that can deliver hope and courage throughout the world."

The nation has done relatively well in fighting the virus with just over more than 330,000 cases and 4,500 deaths, but a recent resurgence in cases has put the nation into a state of national emergency.

The borders have also been closed to non-residents.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the games would show "proof of human victory" against the virus
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the games would show "proof of human victory" against the virus. Picture: PA

On Thursday, IOC president Thomas Bach said there is no reason whatsoever to believe the Olympic Games will not begin as scheduled on 23 July.

"This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these Games safe and successful," he told the Kyodo news agency in Japan.

Read more: Tokyo Olympics - Japan 'privately concludes' Games should be cancelled, report suggests

However, the source told The Times that the winter wave of Covid-19 across the globe - plus the virus forcing a state of emergency in Japan’s biggest cities, including the capital - has convinced the government to cancel the Games.

The Olympic and Paralympic Games were originally postponed in March last year and put back by 12 months.

The country has already spent at least $25 billion on preparing for the sporting event - three-quarters of which was public money.

Paris is set to hold the 2024 Games and Los Angeles was chosen for 2028. The decision for where the 2032 event will take place should be made in 2025.