Tokyo 2020: Japanese government denies Olympic Games will be cancelled
Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary denies report in The Times that Japanese government privately concluded Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of coronavirus; report suggested Japan's focus now on securing Games for Tokyo in 2032; IOC also issues statement
Last Updated: 23/01/21 9:52am
The Japanese government insists there is "no truth" they have decided the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Tokyo 2020 organisers have vowed to stage the rescheduled Games this summer despite much of Japan being under a state of emergency due to a third wave of Covid-19 infections.
However, The Times, citing an unidentified senior member of the ruling coalition, said the government's focus was now on securing the Games for Tokyo in the next available year, 2032.
"We will clearly deny the report," Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai said in response at a news conference.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a statement in which it echoed the response of the Japanese government in describing the report as "categorically untrue", adding: "The IOC is fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year."
Speaking on Saturday to mark the six-month countdown to the opening ceremony, IOC President Bach said the entire Olympic movement is united in its determination to ensure the Tokyo Games happen in July and August.
"Six months ahead of the Games, the entire Olympic movement is looking forward to the opening ceremony on July 23," Bach said.
"I had the opportunity today to speak with all the 206 National Olympic Committees of the world and they are all fully committed and looking forward to the Games. We are enjoying the full support of the Japanese government.
"We had another consultation with all the IOC members yesterday, everybody is really determined to make these Olympic Games the light at the end of the tunnel.
"All the prospects are good, we are working hard, and for these Games, the first priority will be to make them safe and secure for all participants."
In a separate statement, the IOC said: "We believe that with the robust measures and plans we have in place, the Games can and will go ahead safely."
The governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, and the Games' organising committee said its partners, including the government and the IOC, were "fully focused" on hosting the games as scheduled.
Event organisers told Sky Sports News last week they remained committed to holding the showpiece event this summer and had not discussed another postponement.
Bach said in an interview with Kyodo News on Thursday there is "no Plan B" for Tokyo 2020.
"We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo," Bach said.
The IOC said last year they would not delay the Games beyond 2021.
A recent surge in coronavirus cases has forced Japan to close its borders to non-resident foreigners and declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and other cities.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said he was cautiously hopeful that successful Covid-19 vaccine campaigns could help ensure the safe staging of the world's largest sporting event.
Games spokesperson Masa Takaya told Sky Sports News they would watch how the J.League football and baseball seasons in Japan started over the coming weeks to determine how spectators can be accommodated.
Tokyo reported new daily coronavirus cases of more than 1,000 for nine straight days through Thursday and set a single-day record of more than 2,400 infections earlier this month.
The death toll from the respiratory disease stands at nearly 4,900 people in Japan.
About 80 per cent of people in Japan do not want the Games to be held this summer, recent opinion polls show.