Japan is still getting ready to host the Tokyo Summer Olympics according to the plan, the top spokesman of the government said on Wednesday. However, there is speculation that the Games could be postponed because of the coronavirus outbreak.
The fate of the Olympics
Yoshihide Suga, Chief Cabinet Secretary made the comment at a regular news conference.
On Tuesday, Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto had stated that Tokyo’s contract with the International Olympic Committee “could be interpreted as allowing a postponement” until the end of the year, although she restated that the government remained committed to the Games starting on July 24.
Amidst fears that the coronavirus outbreak might disrupt the Tokyo Games, Japan’s Olympic minister stated on Tuesday that the contract calls for the event to be held during 2020, indicating that it might be postponed.
The International Olympic Committee has the power to withdraw hosting rights of Japan if the Games which are planned and scheduled to be held from July 24 to August 9 are not held this year, according to Hashimoto (who told parliament).
“Looking at the contract once again, it says in Article 66 that the IOC holds the right to cancel the Games by deactivating the contract if, the Games are not held in 2020,” Hashimoto said, according to Agence France-Presse.
“At this moment, the Tokyo 2020 committee, the IOC and Tokyo (city government) are doing their best to make sure the Games will be held from July 24,” she added. “The government will fully support that.”
Hashimoto said May seemed like an “important benchmark” for concluding the decision whether to postpone the Games.
“An IOC member has said the end of May is the final deadline for making the decision,” she said, citing to remarks by senior IOC member Dick Pound, a former Canadian swimming champ who has been on the IOC since 1978.
“We’re making utmost efforts so that the IOC can be convinced that the Tokyo Games can be held safely,” she added.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has amplified national efforts to curb the virus, asking schools to shut down for many weeks and urging organizers of major events to consider canceling or delaying them.
The virus which is spreading at an alarming rate started in China has been the reason for about 12 deaths in Japan.
It has been spotted in at least 70 countries, with 90,000 cases and 3,100 deaths registered, including six in the US as of Tuesday morning.
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