TOKYO (NewsNation Now) — Japan and the International Olympic Committee stood firm on Friday on its commitment to host the Tokyo Olympics this year and denied reports of a possible cancellation because of the global pandemic.
Though much of Japan is under a state of emergency due to a third wave of COVID-19 infections, Tokyo Olympic organizers have vowed to press ahead with the re-scheduled Games, which are due to open on July 23 after being postponed for a year because of the coronavirus.
A government spokesman said there was “no truth” to a report in the Times newspaper that the government had privately concluded the Games would have to be cancelled because of the virus.
The Times, citing an unidentified senior member of the ruling coalition, said the government’s focus was now on securing the Games for Tokyo in the next available year, 2032.
“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” The Times quoted the source as saying. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
“We will clearly deny the report,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai told a news conference.
The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, said there had been no talk of cancelling or delaying the Olympics and a protest should be lodged over the Times report.
The IOC echoed the Japanese government in a statement released Friday.
“Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will have to be cancelled. This is categorically untrue,” the IOC said in part.
The Games organizing committee also denied the report, saying in a statement its partners including the government and the International Olympic Committee were “fully focused” on hosting the games as scheduled.
“It is very disappointing to see that the Times is developing such a tabloid-like story with an untrustworthy source,” a source from the organizing committee told Reuters.
“The national government is fully committed to delivering a safe and secure Games, and we are always encouraged by their dedications,” the source said.
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday that he was determined to hold the Tokyo Olympics.
Suga said in parliament that he would work closely with Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee.
Japan has been hit less severely by the pandemic than many other advanced economies, but a recent increase in cases has spurred it to close its borders to non-resident foreigners and declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and major cities.
Japan has reported more than 350,000 confirmed cases of the virus and almost 5,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to data complied by Johns Hopkins University.