Tokyo Olympics chief: Putting off Games again ‘absolutely impossible’

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Jan. 12 (UPI) — The chief of Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee said Tuesday it would be “absolutely impossible” to postpone the Summer Games again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Former Japanese Prime Minister Yoshiro Mori, who serves as president on the committee, said putting off the Games again would be impossible because many of the organizing officials were already on loan from other organizations in the local government.

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“We are determined to proceed with preparation as planned for the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer,” Mori said during live streamed remarks.

His comments come less than one week after Japan recorded its highest number of new cases in a day — more than 7,800 on Friday. Since the pandemic began, the country has recorded nearly 300,000 cases and nearly 4,000 deaths.

The capital city of Tokyo is currently under a state of emergency through Feb. 8.

Globally, coronavirus cases are among an all-time high, with more than 609,000 new cases reported and nearly 10,000 deaths reported Monday. Public health officials expect those numbers to come down as more and more vaccines are administered, but it’s unclear how much that can limit the spread of the virus by July.

A Kyodo News survey released Sunday showed that about 80% of people in Japan support postponing or canceling the Summer Games, which were postponed from 2020. The events are scheduled to begin July 23 and will include about 15,000 athletes and tens of thousands more coaches, judges and other workers.

Japan hasn’t said whether it will allow spectators at the sporting events — or if visitors from abroad will be allowed to attend.

Mori said the committee will unveil more plans in the spring, including a decision on spectators.

“I think we will have to make a very difficult decision from February to March,” he told Kyodo News.