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TOKYO (GLM) – Japanese Cabinet Minister Taro Kono says “anything can happen” regarding the postponed Tokyo Olympics, raising new questions about the tournament scheduled to start in just over six months.
Kono’s statements contradict the official position of the government and the local organizing committee. Both have repeatedly said that the games will take place in a “safe and healthy” way.
Kono opened the door to a possible cancellation and at the same time gave more credence to recent polls according to which 80% of Japanese believe that the Games should not take place or will not take place.
“I would say anything is possible,” Kono told the Reuters Next conference. “It could go either way.
A state of emergency governs much of Japan, with new cases on the rise across the country. Japan has handled the pandemic better than most countries, with some 4,000 deaths attributed to COVID-19.
The expected start dates are July 23 for the Olympics and August 24 for the Paralympics.
The organizers of the games did not respond to Kano’s remarks, but said in a statement that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga “expressed his resolve to hold the games.”
“The situation around COVID-19 changes every moment,” the statement said. “We anticipate that the series of measures being implemented by the government of Japan, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and other prefectural authorities will help improve the situation.”
Kono hinted that few fans will attend, and that the focus will be on the 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes arriving in Japan along with tens of thousands of officials, judges, volunteers and the press.
“We must think about the people who come to watch, but above all about the athletes,” he said. “And then, if possible, we must get tourists in.”
“So from now until the (boreal) summer, anything is possible,” he added.
He said that “the Olympic committee must have been thinking of a Plan B, Plan C, whatever. The situation is not simple. You need a backup plan. “
IOC President Thomas Bach and Organizing Committee President Yoshiro Mori have said the games cannot be postponed again and will be canceled if they cannot be held.
Japan and the IOC have invested heavily in the games. Japan has invested at least $ 25 billion, and 73% of the IOC’s revenue comes from the sale of broadcasting rights. Another 18% comes from sponsors.
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