A senior Japanese ruling party official has admitted cancelling this year’s Olympic Games remains an option.
Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said if rising coronavirus cases mean “it is said to be impossible, we would have to give up”, Kyodo news agency reported.
Coming on the day the Games mascots were unveiled, Mr Nikai’s comments reflect growing concern at how infections are rising in many parts of Japan.
The country only began its vaccination programme this week, leaving vast sections of its population unvaccinated as the start date of July 23 looms.
Infection numbers are trending higher in Tokyo after the government ended a state of emergency, and Osaka posting a record 1,130 new cases on Wednesday.
Mr Nikai questioned what the meaning of the Olympics would be if it was to end up spreading the virus.
A newspaper poll this week indicated that 70% of Japanese people don’t want the Games to go ahead.
Experts say the country is in a fourth wave of COVID-19, with official figures showing more than 36,000 active cases, and variant strains putting huge amounts of pressure on the medical system.
The government is pushing ahead with preparations for the Olympics, putting social distancing measures and restrictions on spectators in place.
The Games are set to begin in 99 days.
Polls indicate little support in Japan for holding the Games during a global pandemic. “Canceling Olympics” was trending on Twitter in Japan on Thursday, with more than 20,000 tweets from users.