The Japanese government has privately admitted that the 2021 Tokyo Olympics will not take place due to the country’s deteriorating COVID-19 situation.
Quoting a member of the ruling coalition, Times of London reports Japan will announce the cancellation, with a view to securing hosting rights for Tokyo in 2032, the next available date.
“Nobody wants to be the first to say it, but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” the source told The Times. “Personally, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
The news comes after Japan declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and seven other regions of the country after an increase in COVID-19 cases.
The Tokyo Games have already been postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, and they were due to take place on July 23.
The Times report comes less than 24 hours after International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach reaffirmed his commitment to the games taking place in Tokyo this year.
Bach said the IOC had “no plan B” for the flagship sporting event.
“We have no reason at this time to believe that the Tokyo Olympics will not open on July 23 at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium,” Bach told Kyodo News. “This is why there is no Plan B and this is why we are fully committed to making these games safe and successful.”
There has been a widespread setback on the games taking place this year, with the event expected to draw 15,000 athletes and staff with insurmountable safety risks to organizers.
It is reported that 80% of the Japanese population is against the games which will take place in July and August.
Compared to other large countries, Japan has largely handled the spread of the virus; However, a recent increase in cases has prompted the government to extend the state of emergency in major cities across the country.
The local organizing committee in Japan said in a statement Friday that all groups involved in planning the games remain committed to hosting the event this summer.
“All of our delivery partners including the National Government, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, IOC and IPC (International Paralympic Committee) are fully focused on hosting the Games this summer. “, says the press release, by The Associated Press.
“We hope that everyday life can get back to normal as quickly as possible, and we will continue to do everything we can to prepare for safe and secure games.”
The Australian Olympic Committee has issued its own statement reaffirming its intention to proceed with the preparations.
“Japanese Prime Minister (Yoshihide) Suga and IOC President Bach this week strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the Tokyo Olympic Games in July of this year,” the statement said.
“The AOC continues to plan to ensure the Australian Olympic team arrives in Tokyo, competes and returns home safely and COVID-free.
“The AOC, Federal Government, Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council continue to advance the bid for the Olympic Games to be held in Queensland in 2032 – and that process continues.”
This article has been updated.