TOKYO – There are three days to go until the official start of the Olympics, and Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto is not ruling out a last-minute cancellation of the games amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases.
On Tuesday, Tokyo reported 1,387 coronavirus cases, marking it the city’s second highly daily uptick since mid-January, according to the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s website.
At a news conference, Muto said he would keep an eye on infection numbers and liaise with other organizers if need be.
The comments were made as more athletes and officials connected to the games tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Japan.
According to Olympic organizers, there have been 67 cases of COVID-19 infections among those accredited for the Tokyo Games since July 1.
“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.”
A spokesperson for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics later said organizers were concentrating solely on delivering a successful Olympics.
Meanwhile, the chair of an independent panel of experts advising organizers on COVID-19 mitigation efforts for Tokyo, Brian McCloskey, said there is no guarantee athletes would not become infected. However, rigorous COVID protocols in place in Japan are aimed at mitigating the spread of covid among athletes during the games.
“Each layer of filtering is a reduction of risk for everybody else, and that’s what we expect to see. The numbers we are seeing are actually extremely low. They are probably lower than we were expecting to see, if anything,” said McCloskey.
As concerns continue to rise amid the pandemic, many Olympic athletes, who are subject to daily testing and protocols, are shifting their focus on preparing for these historic Olympic games.