Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe gestures as he arrives at his office in Tokyo on March 18, 2020.
STR | JIJI PRESS | AFP via Getty Images
Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe hinted that the Tokyo Olympics could be postponed but ruled out the possibility of canceling the global sporting event, according to multiple local media reports on Monday.
The reports come a day after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced that it will stepping up its scenario-planning for the event to help contain the spread of the new coronavirus and safeguard the health of those involved.
“If the IOC’s decision means it becomes impossible to hold [the Olympics] in a ‘complete form,’ as I have previously said, then a decision may have to be made to postpone them,” Abe told Parliament on Monday, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.
Still, the Japanese prime minister reportedly said canceling the event is “not an option.” His comments echoed Sunday’s statement from the IOC executive board that said canceling the event “would not solve any of the problems or help anybody. Therefore, cancellation is not on the agenda.”
Japan has been under tremendous pressure to delay or cancel the Games which are slated to kick off on Jul. 24 in Tokyo.
Pressure is mounting as COVID-19 spreads across the world, forcing the shutdown of cities and businesses in the United States, throughout parts of Europe, and in Asia and the Middle East. The flu-like disease, which can be fatal, has infected more than 294,000 people in over 180 countries so far. At least 12,900 people have died from it, according to data from the World Health Organization.
Meanwhile, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) announced Sunday that they will not be sending teams to the Olympic and Paralympic Games this year. In a statement announcing the decision, the two committees said they were backed by the “Athletes’ Commissions, National Sports Organizations and the Government of Canada.”
“The COC and CPC urgently call on the International Olympic Committee (IOC), and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) to postpone the Games for one year and we offer them our full support in helping navigate all the complexities that rescheduling the Games will bring,” the release said. “While we recognize the inherent complexities around a postponement, nothing is more important than the health and safety of our athletes and the world community.”
On Sunday, the IOC said the stepping up of its scenario planning will “allow better visibility of the rapidly changing development of the health situation around the world and in Japan.”