Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday this summer’s Tokyo Olympics cannot be held under current circumstances due to the new coronavirus pandemic, suggesting for the first time that the Games may have to be postponed.
“If I’m asked whether we can hold the Olympics at this point in time, I would have to say that the world is not in such a condition,” Abe told a session of parliament, adding that he hopes to hold talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach over the issue.
The premier’s comments came a day after the IOC said it would study alternative plans for the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to open on July 24, amid the global outbreak, and subsequently make an assessment within the next four weeks.
Tokyo Olympic organizing committee President Yoshiro Mori said he supports the IOC’s decision to review existing plans, adding that representatives from Japan and the IOC will hold discussions to closely examine all possible scenarios.
“Japan is in a critical state, and the situations in the United States and Europe have been abnormal,” Mori said. “We are not so foolish as to say we will do it under out first (plan).”
Meanwhile, Canada has become the first country to warn that it will not send its athletes to the Tokyo Olympics unless they are postponed for a year.
The Canadian Olympic Committee said holding the Games as planned would threaten the health of its athletes, saying it was unfair to “their families and the broader Canadian community for athletes to continue training for these Games.”
New Zealand added to the pressure for a delay, saying the country would consider boycotting the Olympics if they opened as scheduled.