Olympics Head Won’t Rule Out Cancelation of Tokyo Games as Japan Faces COVID-19 State of Emergency
A petition with 140,000 signatures calling for the Games to be called off was delivered to the government Tuesday, amid rising public anger in Tokyo, Daily Mail reported.
On Friday, the 2020 Olympics are finally set to kick off with the beloved opening ceremony, but much can happen in the three days until then, as the summer games might be scrapped altogether due to coronavirus concerns in Tokyo, the New York Post reported.
Due to an increase in coronavirus cases and Japan under a state of emergency because of the virus, the head of the organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, could not guarantee the Olympics will go on.
“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” Muto told The Daily Mail. “We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”
On Tuesday, the city of Tokyo reported more than 1,300 cases, which is 550 more than the week prior, according to the New York Post.
Opposition to the Olympics among the Japanese public is high.
The global event is so unpopular there that Toyota, Japan's biggest automaker and a top Olympics sponsor, announced Monday that it will not be airing TV commercials in Japan related to the Olympics, nor will its president attend the opening ceremony Friday, according to CBS News.
Following Toyota’s announcement, Panasonic, Fujitsu and NEC Group said they will not send any representatives, either.
While Muto says the games might be scrapped, the president of the International Olympics Committee, Thomas Bach, said canceling the games is “not an option.”
“Over the past 15 months we had to take many decisions on very uncertain grounds. We had doubts every day. We deliberated and discussed. There were sleepless nights,” Bach said in a statement to the Daily Mail. “This also weighed on us, it weighed on me. But in order to arrive at this day today we had to give confidence, had to show a way out of this crisis.”
The number of COVID-19 cases connected to the summer games was at 71 as of Monday, according to the Post. There were 13 new cases that same day, including U.S. gymnastics alternate Kara Eaker.
“The health and safety of our athletes, coaches and staff is our top priority. We can confirm that an alternate on the women’s artistic gymnastics team tested positive for COVID-19. In alignment with local rules and protocols, the athlete has been transferred to a hotel to quarantine. Out of respect for the individual’s privacy, we cannot provide more information at this time,” the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said in a statement.
The games were postponed from last summer due to the novel coronavirus outbreak around the world.
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