Toshihiro Nikai, Secretary General of Japan‘s ruling Liberal Democratic Party, said that canceling the Tokyo Olympics this summer could be an option if the pandemic worsens. The Olympics, originally scheduled for summer 2020, have already been pushed back a full year.
“If it becomes impossible, then it should be called off,” Nikai said on Thursday. “What is the point of the Olympics if it’s responsible for spreading infections? We will have to make a decision at that point.”
The Kyodo News, an agency in Japan, says that it is ‘extremely rare’ for a senior Japanese official to ‘touch on the possibility of canceling the Olympics and Paralympics.’ His comments come just after we passed the 100-day mark before the opening ceremony. Nikai also said, however, that it was ‘important’ for Japan to have a successful Olympics.
“It is a big opportunity. I want to make it a success. We will have many issues to resolve and prepare, and it is important to take care of them one by one.”
According to the Associated Press, COVID-19 cases have been rising across Japan. On Thursday, Japan’s second-largest metropolitan area of Osaka recorded 1,208 new cases. It was the third straight day that new cases surpassed 1,000. Tokyo hit 729, its highest total in more than two months. Japan has attributed 9,500 death to COVID-19 to date.
Prime Minister Toshihide Suga said in a statement there was “no change to the government position to do everything to achieve safe and secure Olympics.”
Meanwhile, Taro Kono, the minister in charge of Japan‘s vaccine rollout, said that the Games may be held without spectators of any kind in order to ensure safety. This would be a step further from the March decision that there would be no foreign spectators allowed.