The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympic Games should be canceled if the coronavirus pandemic makes it impossible to take them in safely, a senior Japanese government official said.
Toshihiro Nikai, part of the country’s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, pointed out that the Games could be canceled less than 100 days before the scheduled July 23 start date.
“If it becomes impossible, it should be canceled,” Nikai said in quotes reported by Kyodo News Agency.
“What is the point of the Olympics if they are responsible for spreading infection? At this point we have to make a decision.”
Last month it was decided to deny entry to overseas spectators and to limit the number of delegates entering Japan. However, Nikai’s comments contradict the largely unified front organized by the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Authorities and the Local Games Committee, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee.
Nikai later added in a statement, also reported by Kyodo, “I mean, if you asked if the Olympics and Paralympic Games should definitely take place, I would say no.”
Opinion polls still show local opposition to the games that are taking place this summer. Over 70 percent of respondents who responded to a Kyodo poll are calling for the event to be canceled or postponed.
However, IOC Coordinating Commission chair John Coates said at a 100th birthday event: “Sydney wasn’t looking very good in public opinion a year ago, but as we got into the last 100 days things started to turn.
“Those are stories and there will be other stories from Japanese and foreign athletes. As soon as these stories are published, I am very confident that public opinion will change.”