Japan stood firm on Friday on its commitment to host the Tokyo Olympics this year and denied reports of a possible cancellation but the pledge looks unlikely to ease public concern about holding the event during a global pandemic.
Though much of Japan is under a state of emergency due to the third wave of COVID-19 infections, Tokyo Olympic organisers have vowed to press ahead with the re-scheduled Games, which are due to open on July 23 after being postponed for a year because of the coronavirus.
A government spokesman said there was “no truth” to a report in the Times newspaper that the government had privately concluded the Games would have to be cancelled because of the virus.
The Times, citing an unidentified senior member of the ruling coalition, said the government’s focus was now on securing the Games for Tokyo in the next available year, 2032.
“We will clearly deny the report,” Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai told a news conference.
The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, said there had been no talk of cancelling or delaying the Olympics and a protest should be lodged over the Times report.
The Games organising committee also denied the report, saying in a statement its partners including the government and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) were “fully focused” on hosting the games as scheduled.
“It is very disappointing to see that the Times is developing such a tabloid-like story with an untrustworthy source,” a source from the organising committee told Reuters.
“The national government is fully committed to delivering a safe and secure Games, and we are always encouraged by their dedications,” the source said.