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March 4, 2021
The International Paralympic Committee has reiterated its commitment to host the Tokyo Games this year and denied reports which claimed the event would be cancelled.
A report in The Times quoted an unidentified senior member of the ruling government coalition as saying: “No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult. Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen.” However, the IPC has dismissed the speculation and insisted that details about how the event will be staged are due to be unveiled next month. In response, Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Manabu Sakai said there was no truth to the report and Games organisers said all event partners, including the Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee, were “fully focused” on hosting the Games this summer [Telegraph].
Japan has been hit less severely by COVID-19 than many other advanced economies, but a recent surge in cases has prompted the country to close its borders to non-resident foreigners and declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and chief cities. Health officials reported 5,652 new cases and at least 94 deaths on Thursday. The Japanese organisers continue to press ahead with preparations for the Games, scheduled to open on July 23. On Thursday, the Japanese government announced it would spend $3.7 billion on the Games.
In an interview with the Kyodo News agency on Thursday, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach also reaffirmed the IOC’s commitment to the event. “We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo,” Bach told Kyodo. Earlier this week, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that the event would “bring hope and courage to the world”. Tokyo 2020’s CEO Toshiro Muto also told the AFP news agency this week that organisers were “unwavering” in their commitment to holding the Games [Aljazeera].
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: KIM KYUNG-HOON/REUTERS