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The Japanese government, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee have strongly dismissed a report by British newspaper The Times, which claimed that this year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo will be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Times on Friday quoted an unnamed senior member of Japan’s ruling coalition who stated that the government had privately concluded that Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled this year with the hope of hosting them in 2032.

Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai told a press conference there was “no truth” in the report.

“We would like to fully deny (the report) by saying there is no truth to it,” Sakai said.

“Of course we have to take into account the situation abroad, and we will decide on whether to actually hold the event at some point, but until then, the Japanese government will do what needs to be done,” he said.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government also vehemently denied the cancellation of the already delayed Tokyo 2020.

“Tokyo Metropolitan Government, as the Host City, will continue to exert its utmost efforts in order to materialise holding a safe and secure Games in close collaboration with all parties concerned such as the Japanese Government, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC),” it said in a statement.

The Japanese Cabinet Secretariat of the Headquarters for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, said: “Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus. This is categorically untrue.

“At an IOC Executive Board Meeting in July last year, it was agreed that the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 would be held on July 23 this year, and the programme and venues for the Games were rescheduled accordingly. All parties involved are working together to prepare for a successful Games this summer.

“We will be implementing all possible countermeasures against COVID-19 and will continue to work closely with the IOC, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in our preparations for holding a safe and secure Games this summer.”

The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee commented: “Prime Minister Suga has expressed his determination to hold the Games; the government is leading a series of Coordination Meetings for COVID-19 Countermeasures and is implementing thorough infection countermeasures in order to be able to hold the Games. All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, the IOC and the IPC 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.”

The IOC echoed the Japanese government’s response to the report, calling it “categorically untrue”.

“Together with its Japanese partners and friends, the IOC is fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year,” an IOC statement said.

And below is the statement by the IPC:

“The IPC, IOC, Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and all delivery partners are fully committed and focussed on delivering safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer. This position has not changed and has been confirmed once again today by the IOC, Tokyo 2020 and the Japanese government.

“Since last March’s postponement, everyone involved in the delivery of the Games has been working tirelessly to develop COVID-19 countermeasures and plans which we believe will mitigate the risk for the athletes, all Games stakeholders and, importantly, the Japanese public.

“In early February, the IOC, IPC and Tokyo 2020 will publish the first editions of Playbooks targeting Games stakeholders. These Playbooks will start to explain exactly how we aim to deliver this summer’s event and outline the personal responsibilities each person attending the Games must follow to ensure safe and secure Games.

“Compared to March 2020, we now know much more about how the COVID-19 virus behaves, much more about how to organise safe sport events during a pandemic and are encouraged by the international roll-out of several vaccines.

“By the time of the Games this summer, we are optimistic that daily case numbers will be much lower than during these dark winter months. We are also confident that the extensive testing programme to be implemented before, during and after the Games – one of several measures that will be taken targeting Games stakeholders – will help minimise the risk of virus transmission.

“Finally, each sport event that has taken place globally since the outbreak of the virus has provided us all with valuable learning experiences which are helping to continually shape our plans for Tokyo.

“There is no doubt the Tokyo 2020 Games will be very different to any previous Games and that this summer’s event looks a long way off right now. However, we believe that with the robust measures and plans we have in place, the Games can and will go ahead safely.”

Source: AIPS Media

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