calendar Friday, 23 July 2021 clock
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TOKYO: The chief of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee on Tuesday did not rule out a last-minute cancellation of the Olympics, as more athletes tested positive for Covid-19 and major sponsors ditched plans to attend Friday’s opening ceremony.

Asked at a news conference if the global sporting showpiece might still be cancelled, Toshiro Muto said he would keep an eye on infection numbers and liaise with other organisers if necessary.

“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases,” said Muto.

“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”

Cases rising

Covid-19 cases are rising in Tokyo and the Games, postponed last year because of the pandemic, will be held without spectators. Japan this month decided that participants would compete in empty venues to minimise health risks.

There have been 67 cases of Covid-19 infections in Japan among those accredited for the Games since 1 July, when many athletes and officials started arriving, organisers said on Tuesday.

Experts see gaps in an Olympic “bubble” that mandates frequent testing and has been designed to limit participants’ movements.

Safety measures

Seiko Hashimoto, who sits alongside Muto as organising committee president, said that safety measures introduced to reassure the Japanese public had not necessarily done so, and that she was aware that popular support for the Games had dropped.

“I really want to apologise from my heart for the accumulation of frustrations and concerns that the public has been feeling towards the Olympics,” Hashimoto told the same news conference.

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