News


London Olympics organiser says Tokyo Games ‘unlikely to go ahead’

The delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics are unlikely to go ahead, Sir Keith Mills has said.

Mills, the deputy chairman of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 Games, aired his concerns in an interview with BBC’s Radio 5 Live. He said that the organisers should be “making plans for a cancellation.”

Tokyo, the host city of the Games, is currently in a state of emergency after a surge of Covid-19 cases and the emergence of the rapidly spreading new strain of the virus which originated in the UK.

Speaking to the radio station’s Wake Up To Money show, Mills said: “I think they’ll leave it to absolutely the last minute in case the situation improves dramatically, in case the vaccinations roll out faster than we all hoped. It’s a tough call. Personally, sitting here looking at the pandemic around the world, it looks unlikely I have to say.

“If I was sitting in the shoes of the organising committee in Tokyo, I would be making plans for a cancellation and I’m sure they have plans for a cancellation. They’ve got another month or so before they need to make a call.”

The cost of the event has already ballooned by 22% to an official cost of US$15.4 billion, with the year-long delay costing US$2.8 billion in renegotiating contracts and implementing Covid-proof security measures. Audits from the Japanese government however have put the cost of staging the Games at at least US$25 billion.

Locally, the country’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga has consistently maintained that the event will go ahead, but there is mounting opposition in Japan. A survey from Kyodo News found that 80% of the population are in favour of a cancellation or further postponement. A further postponement however would be unlikely, with IOC president Thomas Bach previously saying that the event would have to be cancelled if it could not take place this summer.

Cabinet minister Taro Kono became the first to break ranks last week, and said that the staging “could go either way.”

Should the Olympics be cancelled it would be only the fourth time in the marquee event’s history that such a course of action has been taken. The Games were previously cancelled in 1916, 1940 and 1944 – each due to the World Wars.