Just days ahead of the opening ceremony, the head of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee said Tuesday that he won’t rule out canceling the games over COVID-19 concerns.
“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases,” said Toshiro Muto. “So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases.”
As it stands, the opening ceremony for the 2020 Summer Games, which were postponed last year due to the coronavirus, remains on schedule for Friday.
Several prominent sponsors, including Panasonic and Fujitsu, have decided to skip the opening ceremony and Toyota has decided to nix all ads related to the Tokyo Games.
Meanwhile, organizers are faced with 67 cases of COVID-19 found among those involved with the Olympics since July 1.
“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again,” said Muto. “At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”
The pageantry of the opening ceremony comes amid the stark reality of the virus in Japan’s capital city. On Tuesday, Tokyo reported 1,387 new COVID-19 infections, with a seven-day average of 1,100 cases per day.
Because of the outbreak, events at the Games will be held without spectators.
Tokyo is operating under a state of emergency through Aug. 22 — its fourth since the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020. The Games will go on despite residents’ opposition and doctors’ warnings that hospitals could be flooded with COVID-19 patients.
The country has been slow to vaccinate its residents, with just 22.5 percent fully vaccinated, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. By contrast, the United States and Canada are hovering around 50 percent.
–Field Level Media