Australian, US Olympic Committees Refute Olympic Cancellation Report

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Australian, US Olympic Committees Refute Olympic Cancellation Report

Conflicting reports have surfaced over the status of the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo scheduled for this summer, after they were delayed a full year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Times of London on Thursday produced a report, citing a senior member of the Japan’s ruling coalition that, “The Japanese government has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be cancelled because of the coronavirus.” For stakeholders in Japan, the focus would shift to securing the next available Olympics, in 2032, as some compensation for the money spent on these Games.

From the The Times’ report:

The aim now is to find a face-saving way of announcing the cancellation that leaves open the possibility of Tokyo playing host at a later date. “No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” the un-named source said. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”

Earlier on Jan. 21, IOC President Thomas Bach insisted there is no “Plan B” with full confidence the Games will go forward as scheduled despite huge cost overruns because of the delay.

The Australian and United States Olympic Committee have published statements that refute these reports, indicating that any cancellation would come from the International Olympic Committee.

The USOPC wrote:

“Any official communication on the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will come from the IOC, Tokyo Organizing Committee and the Japanese government.

“We have not received any information suggesting the Games will not happen as planned, and our focus remains on the health and preparedness of Team USA athletes ahead of the Games this summer.”

Australian Olympic Committee chef de mission for the 2021 Games Ian Chesterman also insisted the report was nothing more than a rumor when speaking on radio Friday in Australia, according to The AOC released the statement below:

“Both Japanese Prime Minister (Yoshihide) Suga and IOC President Bach have this week strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the Tokyo Olympic Games going ahead in July this year,” the statement read.

“The AOC is continuing its planning to ensuring the Australian Olympic Team arrives in Tokyo, competes and returns home safe and COVID-free.

“The AOC, Federal Government, Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council are continuing to progress the candidature for the Olympic Games to be held in Queensland in 2032  – and that process continues.”

Rumor or not, athletes have taken notice of the speculation swirling around possible Olympic cancellation.

From this morning:

Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that the Games are under threat following the rise in coronavirus cases and the imposition of lockdowns and a state of emergency in Tokyo.

The IOC responded to the latter by stating it had full confidence in the measures introduced by the Japanese authorities and that it was “fully concentrated and committed to the safe and successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this summer.”

Sir Keith Mills, the deputy chairman of the London Organizing Committee for the 2012 Olympic Games, said on Tuesday he felt it was unlikely the Games would go ahead.

However, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga has insisted the event will be held as scheduled as “proof that humanity defeated the coronavirus.”

On Thursday – two days ahead of the six-month countdown of the scheduled opening on 23 July – Bach said he too was confident, telling Japanese news agency Kyodo News:

“We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo.

“This is why there is no plan B and this is why we are fully committed to make these games safe and successful.”

According to Kyodo, Bach did hint at the possible reduction in the number of spectators, acknowledging the need for the IOC to be “flexible” and make “sacrifices” in order to protect the health and safety of all involved, saying:

“As I said, the priority is the safety. When it comes to safety, then there can be no taboo.”