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Tokyo Olympics: Japan 'privately concludes' Games should be cancelled, report suggests
22 January 2021, 00:56 | Updated: 22 January 2021, 01:37
Japan's government has "privately concluded" the Tokyo Olympics will need to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, according to reports.
The iconic sporting event has already been delayed a year after being postponed last summer due to the global outbreak of Covid-19.
However, senior cabinet members in Japan have reportedly agreed that the Games can no longer go ahead in 2021 because of the virus remaining prevalent across the world.
Citing an unnamed government source, The Times wrote that Tokyo is now focusing on securing the quadrennial competition in 2032, the next available year.
The paper has claimed to have been told by a senior member of the ruling coalition that the team is planning on finding a way to announce the cancellation but leave open the chance of hosting the Games at a later date in a bid to save face.
“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult," the source told the publication.
“Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
It comes despite both the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government insisting the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead.
“We will have full anti-infection measures in place and proceed with preparation and with a determination to achieve the Games that can deliver hope and courage throughout the world,” Yoshihide Suga, the prime minister, told parliament this week.
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.
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.
However, even the rescheduled event is now coming under pressure. An opinion poll conducted in Japan by Kyodo suggested 80 per cent of the public wanted them to be cancelled or postponed again.
In response, Mr Bach said: "From a human point of view, I have some understanding. It is difficult to imagine what will happen in six months.
"But at the time of the Games, the situation will be different, and the measures being taken will be different," he said.
"I am sure that with the improvement of the situation, also these people will think differently."
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.