Japanese PM Shinzo Abe: Olympics Cannot Be Held Unless Coronavirus Is Contained

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Tokyo 2020 cannot go ahead unless the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has been contained, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government last month announced the postponement of Tokyo 2020 by a year with the Games rescheduled for 23 July to 8 August 2021 and the Paralympic Games running from 24 August-5 September.

However, doubts have been cast the Games will even take place in 2021 with the head of the Japan Medical Association (JMA) Yoshitake Yokokura saying on Tuesday it would be “difficult” for them to be staged if a vaccine had not been developed.

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Photo Courtesy: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

On the same day Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said the Olympics would be “scrapped” if they cannot take place on their rescheduled dates.

While Abe did not mention a vaccine, he emphasised the safety of everyone involved was paramount.

News agency Reuters reported:

“We’ve been saying the Olympic and Paralympic Games must be held in a complete form, in that athletes and spectators can all participate safely.

“It would be impossible to hold the Games in such a complete form unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained.”

He added that the Olympics “must be held in a way that shows the world has won its battle against the coronavirus pandemic,” while sounding a warning that Japan should “brace for a protracted battle”.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike called on the government to extend the nationwide state of emergency, which is due to end on May 6.

There are currently 13,895 infections in Japan including 413 deaths, according to national broadcaster NHK.

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Photo Courtesy: Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Senior IOC member John Coates responded to the JMA’s assertion by insisting the Olympics being held as scheduled is not contingent on a vaccine being developed.

In an interview with Australian Associated Press, Coates said:

“I saw that opinion.

“But the advice we’re getting from WHO (the World Health Organisation) says we should continue to plan for this date and that is what we’re doing, and that’s not contingent on a vaccine.

“A vaccine would be nice.

“But we will just continue to be guided, as we must be, by WHO and the Japanese health authorities because in all of this, the health and wellbeing of the athletes and other participants in the Games is the number one priority.”

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