Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe says the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympic Games may have to be postponed if the event cannot take place “in a complete way” due to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Prime Minister Abe made the admission during a parliamentary session Monday, but ruled out the possibility the Games, which are scheduled for July 24 until August 9, will be cancelled outright.
Abe’s remarks came a day after the International Olympic Committee announced it would examine the situation over the next few weeks and discuss what next steps to take, including postponing the Olympics by a few weeks or even a year. But the IOC is also refusing to consider the possibility of outright cancelling the Games.
The IOC has come under intense criticism from some prominent Olympic athletes for holding fast to its commitment to stage the Tokyo Olympics as planned. The pressure mounted Sunday when the Canadian Olympic Committee announced Sunday that it would not send its athletes to Tokyo.
As of Sunday, Japan had more than 1,700 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including over 700 from a cruise ship that was quarantined last month near Tokyo, and more than 30 deaths.
The rapid spread of COVID-19 has forced Olympic associations around the world to either postpone or cancel their qualifying events for the Tokyo Games, and has affected athlete’s training and preparation schedules.