TOKYO (Reuters) – The Times reported that the Japanese government specifically decided that the Tokyo Olympics should be canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak, citing an anonymous senior member of the ruling coalition.
The newspaper said the government is focusing on securing the Tokyo Games in the next 2032.
Japan was less affected by the epidemic than many other developed economies, but the recent increase in cases has prompted it to close its borders to non-resident foreigners and declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and major cities.
About 80% of people in Japan show that they don’t want the Games to be held this summer, with recent opinion polls fearing the influx of athletes will spread the virus further.
Against this background, the government is looking for a way to save the face by announcing a cancellation that left the door open to host Tokyo at a later date, The Times reports.
“He doesn’t want to be the first to say this, but the consensus is that it’s too hard,” The Times quoted the source. “I personally don’t think that will happen.”
The game organizers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the report. The organizers and the Japanese government had previously promised to continue preparations for the Games, scheduled to open on July 23.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said this week’s magnificent event “will bring hope and courage to the world”.
In an interview with Kyodo News on Thursday, Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, reiterated his commitment to organizing the Games this year.
“Currently, we have no reason to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open at the Olympic stadium in Tokyo on July 23,” Kyodo said.
(Reporting by Takashi Umekawa and Chris Gallagher; editing by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates)