According to a report from The Times newspaper, the Japanese Government has concluded the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games will have to be cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
After initially being scheduled for August 2020, the Tokyo Games were pushed back to July 2021 before now being cancelled.
With Paris already locked in to host the Olympics 2024 and Los Angeles for 2028, the Japanese Government is now focused on securing the next available slot in 2032.
Despite being hit less severely by the pandemic than many other nations, Japan has experienced a recent surge in cases which had forced them to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and other major cities and close its borders to non-resident foreigners.
A recent opinion poll of people in Japan showed about 80% do not want the Olympics held this year over fears the virus will spread further.
These will be the first Olympic Games to be cancelled since 1944 and just the fourth time since the first modern Games in 1896. The previous cancellations were due to World War I (1916) and World War II (1940, 1944).
These reports come just a day after former IOC vice-president Dick Pound said he was confident the Games would proceed, even if it meant no crowds.
“Nobody can guarantee the Olympics will open on July 23. But I think there’s a very, very, good chance that they can, and that they will,” Pound said in an interview with Japan’s Kyodo news agency published on Thursday.
“The question is — is this a ‘must-have’ or ‘nice-to-have’? It’s nice to have spectators. But it’s not a must-have.”
Pound did also say that there would be no more postponing the Games.
“It’s either 2021, or nothing,” he said.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) responded to the reports with a statement saying they would continue to plan for the Tokyo Games to go ahead as scheduled and that they would continue to push Queensland as a candidate for the 2032 Olympic Games.
“Both Japanese Prime Minister Suga and IOC President Bach have this week strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the Tokyo Olympic Games going ahead in July this year,” the statement read.
“The AOC is continuing its planning to ensuring the Australian Olympic Team arrives in Tokyo, competes and returns home safe and COVID-free.
“The AOC, Federal Government, Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council are continuing to progress the candidature for the Olympic Games to be held in Queensland in 2032 – and that process continues.”
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