Will the Tokyo Olympics be canceled? Government official suggests it’s a possibility


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Top line

A senior official in the ruling party in Japan suggested on Thursday that there is still a possibility that the Tokyo Olympics could be canceled this summer as the Covid-19 situation in the country worsens, injecting new uncertainty into what was already a precarious situation with the Olympics a few months before they were ready to start.

Highlights

Toshihiro Nikai, the general secretary of the Liberal Democratic Party of Japan and its second-highest official, told Japanese broadcaster TBS TV on Thursday that the games “must be permanently canceled” if it seems “impossible” to move on. ‘forward with them.

Nikai slightly returned his comments after making a splash on social media Thursday but not making a definite commitment to moving the games forward, reiterating the party’s commitment to holding the games safe, but noting: “If you ask if the Olympics and Paralympics should take place no matter what, I would say no.

The Olympics are due to start on July 23 after a year of delay, but it’s unclear whether that will happen: The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to host the games and said “there is has no plan B ”if they are canceled this year, while the organizations who represent the Olympic athletes and the Japanese government made public assurances about the games.

Reports suggest the government has privately weighed a potential rollback and public health experts have Express concerns to move forward with games, and Reuters reported in January as sponsors scrapped their marketing plans for the Olympics amid uncertainty.

If the games take place, it will be without international spectators, the Tokyo organizing committee announced in March.

Crucial quote

“If there is an increase in infections because of the Olympics, it won’t make sense to have the Olympics,” Nikai said Thursday.

Contra

Other Japanese officials expressed confidence in the upcoming games on Thursday after Nikai’s comments caught everyone’s attention, with Japanese Prime Minister Toshihide Suga saying there was “no change in the position of the government to do everything to achieve [a] Safe and Secure Olympics. The Tokyo Organizing Committee said in a statement that all of its “delivery partners, including the National Government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, IOC and IPC are fully focused. on hosting the Games this summer “.

Large number

24.5%. This is the percentage of the Japanese public who believe the Tokyo Olympics should go as planned, according to a Kyodo News survey released on Monday, while 39.2% believe they should be canceled and 32.8% want matches rescheduled.

Key context

Uncertainty over the Olympics comes as Japan faces a fourth wave cases of coronavirus. The country recorded more than 4,300 new cases on Wednesday, the highest since the end of January, and authorities have warned hospitals are strained as more variants of the communicable coronavirus spread across the country. Japan is also lagging behind when it comes to vaccination: According to at Johns Hopkins University, only 0.5% of its population is fully vaccinated, and the country is just getting started vaccinate its seniors this week. Health officials have suggested that 50 to 70 percent of the general public should be vaccinated for the Olympics to run safely, and in an editorial published Wednesday in the BMJ, health experts in the UK and Japan warned that “Japan’s overburdened healthcare system, combined with an ineffective testing, tracing and isolation program, could seriously undermine Japan’s ability to manage Tokyo 2020 safely and contain any epidemic ”.

Further reading

Officials say canceling Olympics, no fan is still an option (Associated press)

Japan’s No.2 ruling party says canceling Olympics could be an option (Kyodo News)

Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay finally begins after one year delay from Covid-19 (Forbes)

Foreign spectators will be excluded from the Tokyo Olympics (Forbes)

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