A surge in Tokyo coronavirus cases has caused fresh doubts over whether the Tokyo Olympic Games will go ahead this summer.
The state of emergency has been widened in Japan to cover more than half of the population, and a government minister says the situation regarding the Olympics “can still go in any direction.”
“As the host of the Games, we have to do what we can so that if the green light comes, we can have a good Olympic Games,” Japanese minister of administrative and regulatory reform Taro Kono told Reuters. “But the Olympic Committee also has to think about a plan B and even a plan C. The situation is not easy.
“We have to prepare as well as possible for the Games, but it can still go in any direction.”
Japan is currently adding 7,000 Covid-19 cases a day, the highest figure since the start of the pandemic, with 2,000 of these coming from Tokyo alone.
A second postponement is said to be out of the question, according to both the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese Government, with the head of the Tokyo 2020 organising committee, Yoshiro Mori, saying it would be “absolutely impossible”.
Both parties are not giving up hope yet, though, said to be preparing a “toolbox” of measures in order to try and secure the safety of 15,000 athletes and the tens of thousands of staff and officials.
IOC member Dick Pound has previously suggested Olympic athletes should be prioritised for coronavirus vaccinations so the Games can go ahead, while Deceuninck – Quick-Step boss Patrick Lefevere says athletes have to queue up for jabs, just like everyone else.
Japan, which has a population of 126 million, is not due to begin rolling out vaccinations until late February, beginning with 10,000 frontline medics and then vulnerable older people.
The road events are scheduled for the start of the first week between July 24-28, a week after the end of the 2021 Tour de France on Sunday July 18.