(Tokyo) Japanese Minister Taro Kono said “anything can happen” about the Tokyo Olympics, questioning the prospect of the sporting event being presented in just over six months.
Kono’s statements contradict the official position of the Japanese government and the organizing committee. They have repeated in recent months that the Olympics will be held “in a healthy and safe environment”.
Kono has therefore reopened the door to a cancellation. He also gave credit to recent polls which suggest that 80% of the Japanese population believe that the Tokyo Games should be canceled altogether.
“I should say anything is possible,” Jono said in an interview with Reuters Next.
Kono is the former Minister of Defense and now holds the post of Minister responsible for administrative and regulatory reforms.
“It can go from one side to the other,” he added.
Most of Japanese territory is in a state of emergency due to a marked increase in the number of positive cases for the coronavirus. Japan, however, has handled the pandemic better than most of its neighbors, and is only reporting around 4,000 deaths from COVID-19.
The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to start on July 23, and would be followed by the Paralympics on August 24.
In a statement, the Tokyo Games organizing committee did not address Kano’s comments, but reiterated Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s determination “to present the games.”
“The health situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly changing,” the statement said. We expect that the measures adopted by the Japanese government, the Tokyo municipal government and the various prefectures will improve the situation. ”
Kono also suggested that very few spectators will be able to attend the competitions, as the focus has been on the 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes who will compete in Japan. They will be accompanied by tens of thousands of leaders, judges, volunteers, journalists and members of the broadcast crew.
“We have to think about the people who will come to watch the competitions, but we have to prioritize the athletes,” he said. Then, if possible, we will think of tourists.
“So, by summer, anything is possible,” he repeated.