The Australian Olympic Committee is pushing ahead with planning for the Tokyo Games despite a report the event will be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
It’s been reported the Japan government will cancel the Games due to start in July and focus on staging it in 2032, when Brisbane hope to host the event.
“Both Japanese Prime Minister Suga and IOC President Bach have this week strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the Tokyo Olympic Games going ahead in July this year,” the AOC said in a statement on Friday.
“The AOC is continuing its planning to ensuring the Australian Olympic Team arrives in Tokyo, competes and returns home safe and COVID-free.
“The AOC, federal government, Queensland government and Brisbane City Council are continuing to progress the candidature for the Olympic Games to be held in Queensland in 2032 – and that process continues.”
Japan’s government has privately concluded the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic, The Times reported, citing an unnamed senior member of the ruling coalition.
The government’s focus is now on securing the Games for Tokyo in the next available year, 2032, the newspaper said.
Japan has been hit less severely by the pandemic than many other advanced economies, but a recent surge in cases has spurred it to close its borders to non-resident foreigners and declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and major cities.
About 80 per cent of people in Japan do not want the Games to be held this summer, recent opinion polls show, over fears the influx of athletes will spread the virus further.
Against this backdrop, the government is seeking a way to save face by announcing a cancellation that leaves the door open to Tokyo hosting at a later date, The Times report said.
“No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” The Times quoted the source as saying. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Games organisers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report.
Organisers and the Japanese government have previously vowed to press ahead with preparations for the Games, scheduled to open on July 23.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga this week said the showpiece event would “bring hope and courage to the world.”
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach reaffirmed his commitment to holding the Games this year in an interview with Kyodo News on Thursday.
“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 told Kyodo.