On Friday, The Times of London, citing an unnamed senior member of the ruling coalition, reported that Japanese authorities privately concluded that the Olympics could not continue due to the ongoing pandemic. CNN did not independently verify this report, which officials in Tokyo were quick to refute.
In a statement, Tokyo 2020 organizers said that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga expressed to them his intention to hold the games, and that meetings are continuing to ensure they can move forward while implementing comprehensive infection control measures and other precautions due to the pandemic.
“All of our delivery partners, including the national government, the Tokyo metropolitan government, the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, the International Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee, are fully focused on hosting the Games this summer,” the statement said. “We hope that daily life will return to normal as soon as possible, and we will continue to do our best to prepare for safe and secure games.”
Speaking in Parliament on Friday morning, Suga said that the games “will be a symbol of humanity in overcoming the new Corona virus, and an opportunity to present Japan’s reconstruction after the devastating earthquake (2011) and tsunami to the world.”
“We are determined to work closely with the Tokyo metropolitan government, the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Organizing Committee and the International Olympic Committee to achieve Olympic safety and security,” Suga said.
Other Olympic officials were quick to deny the Times’ allegations.
“Unfortunately I need to address an unfounded rumor that the Tokyo Games can be canceled,” Matt Carroll, chief executive of the Australian Olympic Committee, told reporters on Friday. “Incorrect rumors are creating more anxiety for the athletes in our sport. The Tokyo Games are continuing. The fires will be lit on July 23, 2021. The Japanese Prime Minister reiterated this this afternoon.”
In a tweet on Twitter, Canadian Olympic Games president David Shoemaker said that his team “is not aware of any decision taken by the Japanese government, as it is said.”
“The Canadian Olympic Committee is confident that the Games can be organized safely and successfully given what has been learned in sport over the past several months and the focus that the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee have placed on countermeasures to Covid-19,” he said. “We continue our preparation to participate in Tokyo 2020 with a focus on the health and safety of athletes, their families and their communities.”