Tokyo Olympics Chief Doesn't Rule Out 11th Hour Cancellation Of Games

The head of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee acknowledged there is a possibility the Olympics will be canceled at the 11th hour if the COVID-19 surge impacting Japan’s capital cannot be brought under control.

What Happened: CNBC reported Tokyo Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Muto told a news conference on Tuesday morning he's watching the level of COVID-19 infections and will confer with other Olympics-related entities to determine a course of action with the Olympics, which are scheduled to begin Friday after being delayed for a year.

“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases,” Muto said. “So, we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases.”

Muto, the former deputy governor of the Bank of Japan, diplomatically declined to specifically cite cancellation as an option, but nonetheless acknowledged an unprecedented health crisis was severely impacting the event.

“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again,” he continued, referring to both the Tokyo and Japanese federal government agencies and the Japanese and International Olympic Committees. “At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

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What Else Happened: The pandemic has already forced the removal of all spectators from the Olympic venues as Tokyo recorded 1,387 new coronavirus cases recorded on Tuesday.

On Monday, Toyota Motor Corp. TM announced it was pulling its Olympics-related advertising from Japanese television and withdrawing its executives from the opening ceremonies on Friday. Three more Japanese companies with sponsorship ties to the games — Panasonic Corporation PCRFY, Fujitsu FJTSY and NEC Corporation NIPNF — have since announced they will not be represented at the opening ceremonies.

Despite the ongoing health crisis, U.S. First Lady Jill Biden is still scheduled to lead the nation’s delegation for Friday’s Olympics opening ceremonies.

“Nothing has changed as it relates to her travel, or the travel of the delegation,” said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki at a Monday news conference, adding the U.S. team “will be following very strict safety and health protocols, limiting engagement with the public and keeping our footprint as small as possible.”

Photo: Public Domain Pictures

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Posted In: NewsSportsGlobalGeneralCoronavirusCovid-19JapanJill BidenOlympicsTokyo OlympicsToshiro Muto
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