Japanese government brands Olympic cancellation claims ‘categorically untrue’

The Japanese government has batted away suggestions that the Tokyo Olympics are unlikely to go ahead.

A number of stories emerged last week suggesting that the organising committee and Japanese government had privately conceded that the event was doomed, but the government has come out fighting and has said that this is “categorically untrue.”

One story from the Times, which said that the government was hoping to trade the cancelled games for the 2032 event, was specifically denied.

The Japanese government issued a statement saying: “Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the government of Japan has privately concluded that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will have to be cancelled. This is categorically untrue.”

“The renewed schedules and venues for the Tokyo 2020 Games, starting with the Opening Ceremony on 23 July this year, were determined at the IOC session in July last year. All parties involved are working together to prepare for the successful Games this summer.”

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee issued a similar statement: “Prime minister Suga has expressed his determination to hold the Games; the government is leading a series of coordination meetings for Covid-19 counter measures and is implementing thorough infection countermeasures in order to be able to hold the Games,” it said in a statement.

“All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo metropolitan government, Tokyo 2020 organising committee, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee are fully focused on hosting the Games this summer.”

People outside of the event’s organisation have weighed in on the likelihood of the games going ahead. Sir Keith Mills, the deputy chairman of the London organising committee for the 2012 games, said that the event is unlikely to go ahead, while British Olympic Association CEO Andy Asson said that the body is “confident” about the Games being staged.

The Japanese government, already facing an uphill climb to stage the Games, are now facing an even more difficult challenge, with a new report from research firm Airfinity which said that the country will achieve herd immunity to Covid-19 after the Olympics.

In comments made by Reuters, the forecaster’s founder Rasmus Bech Hansen said that “Japan looks to be quite late in the game” and that it will not reach a 75% inoculation rate until around October – two months after the Games close.

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