Japan’s Secretary General Toshihiro Nikai has admitted that cancelling the Olympic Games is a possibility as the country struggles to deal with a fourth wave of coronavirus. A surge in the UK variant of COVID-19 is apparently to blame for the recent crisis.
The latest testing data has cast major doubts over whether the event will get underway as scheduled on July 23.
Nikai is second in command of the Liberal Democratic Party, which is the ruling party in Japan.
And he is not afraid of pulling the plug on this summer’s Games if coronavirus cases continue to rise.
“If it is impossible, then it should be called off,” the Secretary General said on Thursday.
“What is the point of the Olympics if it is responsible for spreading infections? We will have to make a decision at that point.”
Nikai insists Japan will do everything they can to try and put on a spectacle for the world.
“It is important for Japan to have a successful Olympics,” he explained. “It is a big opportunity. I want to make it a success.
“We will have many issues to resolve and prepare, and it is important to take care of them one by one.”
The Japanese public are split on whether it will be a good idea to stage the postponed Games this year.
But Taro Kono, who is in charge of the country’s vaccine efforts, is confident that the competition can be held safely.
“We’ll hold [the Games] in a way that’s feasible,” he said in a seperate interview. “That may be without spectators.”
British Olympic Association chair Sir Hugh Robertson yesterday said: “I’m very confident it will go ahead.
“I think the fact they have decided on no foreign spectators, now makes it more likely it will happen.
“They’re taking the measures necessary in order to enable the Olympics to go ahead safely in July.”
He added: Iif you’re a country in lockdown and then somebody proposes hosting an Olympics you’re bound to think that this probably isn’t the ideal.
“It’s also the case that in every single country that ever hosts the Olympic Games, that the public is generally somewhere between hostile and not very keen, right up until the last moment and then it flips about.
“I think when it actually gets right up close to the games the Japanese will want to do what they’re really well known for doing which is lay on a fantastic Games and welcome as much of the world as is safe to do.”