Japanese lawmakers see a growing likelihood that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be canceled due to the lingering coronavirus pandemic.
“As long as the coronavirus spreads, it is irresponsible to keep moving forward based only on wishful thinking,” leading opposition lawmaker Yukio Edano said Thursday. “We should batten down the hatches.”
Japan and International Olympic Committee officials postponed the Summer Olympics at a projected cost of $2.8 billion, just weeks after the pandemic interrupted the NBA season and scuttled college basketball’s March Madness in the United States. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s team has aspired to host the competition in 2021, but opposition leaders and sources among Suga’s allies foresee a cancellation.
“No one wants to be the first to say so, but the consensus is that it’s too difficult,” a Japanese government source toldThe Times of London. “Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
Japanese officials have long expected that another postponement would doom this round of summer games.
“There is no plan B,” International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said Thursday, maintaining that he has “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.”
Governments around the world are racing to approve and distribute vaccines for the contagion, but a senior World Health Organization official predicted last week that “we’re not going to achieve any levels of population immunity or herd immunity in 2021.”
In the meantime, “Tokyo has logged daily infection rates of more than 1,000 in recent days,” according to Japanese media.
“It is becoming difficult to hold the games,” another leading opposition lawmaker, Yuichiro Tamaki, emphasized Thursday.