TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said that the Olympic Games, already postponed to 2021, would be “scrapped” if they could not take place then, according to an interview published on Tuesday.
FILE PHOTO: Tokyo 2020 Olympics President Yoshiro Mori holds the Olympic Flame during a ceremony at Japan Air Self-Defense Force Matsushima Base in Higashi-Matsuhsima, Miyagi prefecture, northern Japan March 20, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato/File Photo
The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government last month postponed the Games until July 2021 because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
With the epidemic’s worldwide infection rate climbing and experts suggesting a vaccine is still a long way off, questions are being asked about whether the huge setpiece event might need to be delayed further.
“No. In that case, the Olympics will be scrapped,” Mori said in the interview with Japanese sports daily Nikkan Sports, when asked if the Games could be postponed again until 2022.
However the former prime minister remained confident the they would go ahead in 2021.
“We have delayed the Olympics until next summer after we will have won the battle,” he was quoted as saying.
“The Olympics would be much more valuable than any Olympics in the past if we could go ahead with it after winning this battle. We have to believe this otherwise our hard work and efforts will not be rewarded.”
Asked about Mori’s comments, Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya emphasised organisers were focusing on next year.
“New dates for the Tokyo 2020 Games have been set and our mission is to deliver the Games next year,” he told a news briefing.
Mori “mentioned this comment in his own thoughts,” Takaya added.
During the interview, Mori also suggested the Olympics and Paralympics might share opening and closing ceremonies instead of holding their usual separate ones.
Mori said this would cut costs, though the idea is further complicated by tickets already being sold for all four ceremonies.
“It’s a big hurdle,” he admitted. “(But) … due to the impact of coronavirus, the situation next year will be completely different…, Given that the situation has dramatically changed, we have to review key areas, including the ceremonies.”
There have been more 3 documented coronavirus cases globally, with more than 210,000 deaths, and the World Health Organization (WHO) warned on Monday that the pandemic was “far from over”.
Reporting by Jack Tarrant and Junko Fujita; editing by John Stonestreet