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Japan pushes back on report of Tokyo Olympics cancellation

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says the country is determined to host the Tokyo Olympics after the UK Times claimed cancellation was on the cards.

The Summer Games, which were postponed last year, are due to be held between July 23rd and August 8th 2021.

Tokyo recently entered a state of emergency because of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Times quoted a senior government source who claimed that privately, Japanese authorities are resigned to the fact that the Games cannot be staged in the current public health environment.

“No one wants to be the first to say so, but the consensus is that it’s too difficult," the source told the Times.

The report went on to suggest the Japanese are looking at finding a way of saving face and possibly waiting for the next available Games in 2032.

Japan has spent $25 billion in preparing for the Games, which would see 11,000 athletes descend on Tokyo. Another 4,000 athletes are due to compete in the subsequent Paralympics.

Publicly, authorities have rejected claims of cancellation.

Yoshihide Suga said today that the country is determined to host the Games.

The local organising committee also issued a statement reaffirming its commitment to ensuring the Games take place.

“All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the IOC and the IPC (International Paralympic Committee) are fully focused on hosting the games this summer.

“We hope that daily life can return to normal as soon as possible, and we will continue to make every effort to prepare for a safe and secure games.”

Managu Sakai, the deputy chief cabinet secretary and an ally of the prime minister, also rejected the story in the UK Times.

“There is no such fact and we clearly deny (the report)."

With preparations for Paris 2024 already underway, it's highly unlikely the Tokyo Olympics can be postponed again. International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said yesterday that the Games will proceed and that there is no 'Plan B'.

The IOC primarily generates revenue via television deals for the Summer and Winter Olympics, while on the other hand, Tokyo has been relying on the prospect of ticket sales.

It's estimated over €18 billion of the amount spent getting Tokyo ready has come from public funds in Japan.

Tokyo has a population of 35 million. Public opinion in Japan has turned against the hosting of the games, with 80% of locals opposed to it according to recent polls.

The Summer Olympics have never been cancelled in peacetime. The 1916, 1940 and 1944 Games were cancelled due to the first and second World Wars.

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