Head Of Japan Medical Association Casts Doubt On Tokyo Games Going Ahead In 2021

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Further doubt has been cast on Tokyo 2020 going ahead next year by the head of the Japan Medical Association (JMA) Yoshitake Yokokura in the wake of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The Games were moved back a year last month after the pandemic forced the cancellation of sporting events worldwide as the daily death toll continued to rise.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government announced that Tokyo 2020 would take place from 23 July to 8 August 2021 with the Paralympic Games running from 24 August-5 September.


Photo Courtesy: Guy Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

However, doubts remain over whether the Games will take place at that time given the pandemic is still rising across the world with no vaccine as yet in sight.

JMA president Yokokura told reporters in Tokyo on Tuesday:

“Unless an effective vaccine is developed I think it will be difficult to hold the Olympics next year.

“I’m not saying at this point that they shouldn’t be held. The outbreak is not only confined to Japan … it’s a worldwide issue.”

Last week, Kentaro Iwata, a specialist in infectious diseases, said he thought it “unlikely” that the Games would be held just over a year from now.

IOC vice-president Dick Pound also said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC) that Japan had indicated it could not sustain a further postponement were the pandemic not brought under control by that time.

But on Tuesday, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said the Olympics would be “scrapped” if they cannot take place on their rescheduled dates from July 2021.

Dick Pound

Dick Pound, IOC member and former head of WADA – Photo Courtesy: US Mission Canada

Now Mori has confirmed there would be no extension to 2022 should that be the case, a now-or-never scenario.

In an interview with Japanese sports daily Nikkan Sports, Mori said:

“No. In that case, the Olympics will be scrapped.”

He was however confident the Games would go ahead in 2021, saying:

“We have delayed the Olympics until next summer after we will have won the battle.

“The Olympics would be much more valuable than any Olympics in the past if we could go ahead with it after winning this battle.

“We have to believe this otherwise our hard work and efforts will not be rewarded.”

Asked about Mori’s comments, Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya told a news briefing reported by agency Reuters, saying:

“New dates for the Tokyo 2020 Games have been set and our mission is to deliver the Games next year.”

So too were the dates critical to FINA‘s decision as to when they would reschedule the World Championships which had been due to be held in Fukuoka, Japan, from 16 July to 1 August 2021.

The FINA executive met remotely on Monday and Swimming World understands that October 2021 was ruled out after organisers and broadcasters in Japan made clear a 2022 preference with a senior source saying “2022 for sure”.

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