On Friday, the Times of London, citing an unnamed senior member of the ruling coalition, reported that Japanese authorities had privately concluded that the Olympics could not proceed due to the ongoing pandemic. CNN has not independently verified this report, which officials in Tokyo were quick to refute.
In a statement, the Tokyo 2020 organizers said that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had expressed to them his determination to hold the Games, and that meetings were ongoing to ensure that they could go ahead while implementing thorough infection countermeasures and other precautions due to the pandemic.
“All our delivery partners including the national government, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the IOC and the IPC are fully focused on hosting the Games this summer,” the statement said. “We hope that daily life can return to normal as soon as possible, and we will continue to make every effort to prepare for a safe and secure Games.”
Suga has yet not publicly spoken about the issue and his office declined to comment when approached by CNN on Friday morning.
When asked about the matter in parliament, the Japanese Prime Minister said he was determined to realize the Tokyo Olympics, Reuters reported.
Other Olympic officials were also quick to deny the claims made by the Times.
“Unfortunately I need to address the unfounded rumor that the Tokyo Games will be canceled,” Australian Olympic Committee CEO Matt Carroll told reporters Friday. “Rumors that are incorrect create more anxiety for athletes in our sports. The Tokyo Games are on. The flames will be lit on the 23rd of July 2021. This has been just reconfirmed again by the Japanese Prime Minister this afternoon.”
In a thread on Twitter, Canadian Olympic chief David Shoemaker said his team was “unaware of any decision taken by the Japanese government as is being reported.”
“The Canadian Olympic Committee has confidence that the Games can be staged safely and successfully given what has been learned in sport over the last several months and the emphasis the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee have placed on Covid-19 countermeasures,” he said. “We continue in our preparation to participate at Tokyo 2020 with a focus on the health and safety of our athletes, their families, and their communities.”