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Tokyo Olympics chief refuses to rule out cancelling games on eve of event 

Days ahead of the Olympics, the boss of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee has not ruled out cancelling the games.

Speaking at a press conference, committee chief Toshiro Muto said that “We will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” and that the body will keep an eye on infection numbers. 

While Japan is in a state of emergency due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the bio-secure Olympic village has also been impacted. Since July 1 when athletes and officials started arriving, there have been 67 recorded Covid cases among accredditied people. The city of Tokyo recorded 1,387 new cases on Tuesday, July 20. 

Muto added: “We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

Committee president Seiko Hashimoto, also speaking at the same conference, said: “I really want to apologise from my heart for the accumulation of frustrations and concerns that the public has been feeling towards the Olympics.”

A recent national telephone survey in Japan found that 68% of respondents do not believe the Games can be held in a way that is “safe and secure”, while antipathy towards the event in the country has caused carmaker Toyota to pull its Olympics-related TV advertising.

In spite of increasing fears in the country, International Olympics Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach has said that cancelling the event has never been an option and that the “unprecedented challenges” of staging the Olympics have been overcome by “heroic efforts” on the part of medical personnel and volunteers.