Tokyo Olympics organizers played down a poll showing support for the games waning on Tuesday, and said a report claiming a cancellation could be discussed next month was “fake news”.
The comments come, less than 200 days before the start of the postponed games in July, with a state of emergency in Greater Tokyo due to the high incidence of coronavirus and with countries around the world battling outbreaks.
In a speech marking the new year to employees, Tokyo 2020 Games CEO Toshiro Moto put a positive influence on the Kyodo News poll published on Sunday that showed that 45% want the Games postponed again, while 35% prefer a total cancellation
“The number of people who demanded its abolition has increased by only 5%,” Muto said.
He added that “the number of people who demanded to postpone it increased a lot, but this means that these people still want to detain him.”
“Of course, for it to be held, we have to ensure that we play safe games with anti-virus measures. If you think about it from that perspective, I firmly believe that people will support it more and more.”
Muto also denied a Japanese media report alleging that the International Olympic Committee and organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Games will discuss the fate of the Games in February as “fake news.”
“When these kinds of reports come out, some people might feel anxious about them,” Muto said. “I want to say that we don’t think that way at all, and these reports are wrong.”
British rowing star Matthew Pensent called on Monday for the Games to be canceled and for Tokyo to host the event in 2024 instead.
The four-time Olympic gold medalist tweeted that it would be “ridiculous” to host an event where thousands of people fly unvaccinated.
Pinsent invited Tokyo to host the Games in 2024, with Paris taking charge in 2028 and Los Angeles back in 2032.
But Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori said in a speech on Tuesday that it was “absolutely impossible” to postpone this year’s Olympic Games again, according to Kyodo News.
Mori also said that Japan will decide whether to accept fans from abroad to participate in the games in the coming months, saying, “We will have to make a very difficult decision in the February-March period.”
The government is expected to expand the state of emergency to include several additional regions soon, and has already reduced the number of spectators at sporting events in Greater Tokyo to 5,000 people or 50% capacity, whichever is lower.
On Tuesday, the rugby chiefs canceled two games that were due to take place in the opening match of this week’s domestic league season after 46 people from four teams tested positive.
Tokyo 2020 organizers have put in place a set of anti-virus guidelines they say will allow matches to go ahead without a vaccine, and Moto said he is confident they will provide these guidelines after passing last year’s trials.
“I think this is a great organization,” Muto said. There had never been any postponement before in history, and this postponement, in one word, cannot summarize the amount of work that needs to be done.
“We still have a lot to do, but we have overcome a lot and that gives us a lot of confidence as an organizing committee.”
Japan is not expected to start vaccinating until late February.
Japanese media reported that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and billionaire Bill Gates agreed on Tuesday that vaccines should be distributed to developing countries to ensure the safety of the Games.
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