Games should go on, says Bach
The Tokyo Olympics – due to begin on Friday – could be cancelled at the last minute because of rising coronavirus cases, the Games’ chief has admitted, reports Skysports.
With cases rising in the Japanese capital and a state of emergency declared, it has already been decided to hold the various competitions in empty venues in and around the city.
There have been 67 cases among those accredited to the Games since the start of the month, Reuters reported.
“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases,” Mr Muto, who heads the organising committee, said during a news conference.
“So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases.
“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”
Major sponsors will not be present at the opening ceremony, it has been decided. The Japanese public has been concerned about a spike in cases being triggered by athletes and other attendees arriving from abroad.
Organising committee president, Seiko Hashimoto, said she wanted to “apologise from my heart for the accumulation of frustrations and concerns that the public has been feeling towards the Olympics”.
Meanwhile, a Ugandan athlete reported missing from his hotel last week after missing a coronavirus test has been found and is being interviewed by police.
Julius Ssekitoleko, a 20-year-old weightlifter, went missing from his pre-Olympic training camp in Osaka Prefecture on Friday and left behind a note saying he did not want to return to his home country.
Officials said he expressed his desire to stay in Japan and work. He has now been discovered in Mie Prefecture.
Meanwhile, IOC President, Thomas Bach, has revealed that rescheduling the Tokyo Olympics “caused sleepless nights,” adding it must go ahead “to give hope” for the future.
Bach says cancellation “was never an option” despite the difficulties involved in hosting the event amid the COVID pandemic.
“The IOC never abandons the athletes,” said Bach. “Cancellation would have been the easy way for us. We could have drawn on the insurance that we had at the time and moved on to Paris 2024.
“But in fact, cancellation was never an option for us.
“In order to arrive at this day today, we had to give confidence. We had to show a way out of this crisis. We had to provide stability. We had to build trust. We had to give hope.”
Bach admits the unprecedented decision to postpone the Olympics and Paralympics created serious doubts as to whether the Games could go ahead all.
“I can admit that we did not know how complex this would be,” he said in a speech to mark the start of the 138th IOC Session in Tokyo.
“There was no blueprint. Nobody had ever done this before.
“Over the past 15 months, we had to take daily decisions on very uncertain grounds. We had doubts every day. We deliberated and discussed. There were sleepless nights. Like everyone else in the world, we did not know, I did not know, what the future would hold.”