Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe confirmed yesterday that the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games will go ahead as planned in spite of increasing fears about the global COVID-19 pandemic.
With a string of sporting events being halted all over the world in a response to the crisis, Prime Minister Abe has moved to dampen speculation that the Olympic Games, due to take place this summer from July 24 to August 9, could be postponed, or even canceled.
Abe told the news conference in Tokyo that Japan will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics as planned without any problem. However, he added that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) would have the final decision whether Tokyo 2020 will take place.
His comments came after 2020 Olympics organizers announced that the Olympic torch relay’s Greek leg had been canceled, but also insisted that the Games would go ahead as scheduled.
A statement on the official Tokyo 2020 website said, “The IOC and Tokyo 2020 have reconfirmed today that both parties will continue to stay in close collaboration with all relevant organizations as we prepare to deliver a safe and secure Tokyo 2020 Games opening on 24 July 2020 as planned.”
Abe said he expected the Japanese leg of the torch relay to start in Fukushima on March 26 as planned and he would like to go to Fukushima to witness the 2020 Olympic torch relay started.
Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike added that they are taking thorough infection measures with regards to the torch relay domestically.
The impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, with global sports events on hold until at least the end of March, has witnessed several Olympic qualification events postponed, including rowing, wrestling, and diving. Meanwhile, boxing events in London have still gone ahead last Saturday as scheduled.
Japan has had above 1,400 cases of coronavirus but has avoided the spikes that are seen in many other countries.