The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese government officials have pushed back against reports that this summer’s Tokyo Olympics would have to be canceled.
Earlier this week, The Times had reported that officials had privately concluded that the Games would have to be shuttered as coronavirus cases surge worldwide and reach a spike in Tokyo.
Both the IOC and Japanese government officials robustly pushed back against the rumor Friday.
“Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be canceled because of the coronavirus. This is categorically untrue,” read a statement from the IOC.
The release came in the wake of the news report published Thursday claiming that officials were already looking to secure a slot for the Tokyo Games in 2032 rather than in 2021.
“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult [to host the Games this summer],” an anonymous source told The Times. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Separately from the IOC, deputy chief cabinet secretary of Japan Manabu Sakai also told a news conference that “we clearly deny the report.”
While Japan escaped the full force of the COVID-19 pandemic last year, the country has seen a recent surge of cases, leading to officials closing its borders to non-residents and declaring a state of emergency through major cities. The spike in Japan mirrors those seen through Europe, a development that has seen the shuttering of a number of races this week, including the Ruta del Sol, Circuit de la Sarthe and Volta ao Algarve.
The IOC stated that it remains committed to its two-week event, set to start July 23.
“We will be implementing all possible countermeasures against COVID-19 and will continue to work closely with the IOC, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in our preparations for holding a safe and secure Games this summer,” read the statement.
“Together with its Japanese partners and friends, the IOC is fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year.”
IOC statement on media reports regarding Tokyo 2020 pic.twitter.com/647pj5mx9U
— IOC MEDIA (@iocmedia) January 22, 2021