Next year’s Olympics may be can­celled: Mori

If pan­demic isn’t brought un­der con­trol

Kuwait Times - - Sport -

TOKYO: The post­poned Tokyo 2020 Olympics will have to be can­celled if the coro­n­avirus pan­demic isn’t brought un­der con­trol by next year, the or­gan­is­ing com­mit­tee’s pres­i­dent said in com­ments pub­lished yes­ter­day.

The pan­demic has al­ready forced a year-long de­lay of the Games — which are now sched­uled to open on July 23, 2021 — but Tokyo 2020 pres­i­dent Yoshiro Mori said no fur­ther post­pone­ment was pos­si­ble. In an in­ter­view with Ja­pan’s Nikkan Sports daily, Mori was cat­e­gor­i­cal when asked if the Olympics could be de­layed un­til 2022 if the pan­demic re­mains a threat next year, re­ply­ing: “No.”

“In that case, it’s can­celled,” Mori said. Mori noted the Games had been can­celled pre­vi­ously only dur­ing wartime, and com­pared the bat­tle against coro­n­avirus to “fight­ing an in­vis­i­ble en­emy”.

If the virus is suc­cess­fully con­tained, “we’ll hold the Olympics in peace next sum­mer”, he added. “Mankind is bet­ting on it.” Masa Takaya, a Tokyo 2020 spokesman, de­clined to com­ment on a pos­si­ble can­cel­la­tion of the Games, telling re­porters that Mori’s re­marks were based on “the chair­man’s own thoughts”.

Ja­panese or­gan­is­ers and the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee, un­der heavy pres­sure from ath­letes and in­ter­na­tional sports fed­er­a­tions, agreed in March to a year-long post­pone­ment of the Games.

Or­gan­is­ers and Ja­panese of­fi­cials have said the de­layed Olympics will be a chance to show­case the world’s tri­umph over the coro­n­avirus, but ques­tions have arisen about whether even a year’s post­pone­ment is suf­fi­cient.

Yestr­day, the head of Ja­pan Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion warned it would be “ex­ceed­ingly dif­fi­cult” to hold the Games next year if a vaccine has not been found. “I would not say that they should not be held, but it would be ex­ceed­ingly dif­fi­cult,” Yoshi­take Yokokura told re­porters at a brief­ing.

And last week a Ja­panese med­i­cal ex­pert who has crit­i­cised the coun­try’s re­sponse to the coro­n­avirus warned that he was “very pes­simistic” that the post­poned Olympics can be held in 2021.

“To be hon­est with you I don’t think the Olympics is likely to be held next year,” said Ken­taro Iwata, a pro­fes­sor of in­fec­tious diseases at Kobe Univer­sity, at a brief­ing. But Tokyo 2020 spokesman Takaya coun­tered that even med­i­cal ex­perts said it was too early to make a judge­ment on such a pos­si­bil­ity.

In the in­ter­view, Mori also said or­gan­is­ers were con­sid­er­ing hold­ing joint open­ing and clos­ing cer­e­monies for the Olympics and the Par­a­lympics in an ef­fort to cut costs. Un­der the plan, the Par­a­lympics would join the Olympic open­ing cer­e­mony on July 23, and the Olympic clos­ing cer­e­mony would be in­te­grated into the Par­a­lympics clos­ing event in Septem­ber. But Mori ad­mit­ted that Tokyo or­gan­is­ers had not yet ob­tained the con­sent of the IOC and their Par­a­lympic coun­ter­parts on that plan. “It’s go­ing to a con­sid­er­able cut in costs and a big mes­sage of vic­tory against the global cri­sis, but it’s not easy,” Mori said. —AFP

TOKYO: A man runs in front of the con­struc­tion site of the Na­tional Sta­dium, a venue for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in Tokyo on April 20, 2020. A Ja­panese ex­pert who has crit­i­cised the coun­try’s re­sponse to the coro­n­avirus warned that he is “pes­simistic” that the post­poned Olympics can be held even in 2021. — AFP

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