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Tokyo 2020 president Mori: Olympics to be ‘scrapped’ if not held in 2021

Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee president Yoshiro Mori (by The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images)

Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori has said 2021 is the only option to stage the rescheduled summer Olympic Games, adding that they would be “scrapped” if they cannot take place next year.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo 2020 last month announced that the Games will now take place in July and August of 2021, with a ‘joint steering committee’ formed earlier this month to ensure the delivery of the postponed event.

When questioned over whether the ongoing global battle against Covid-19 may yet necessitate a further postponement to 2022, Mori told Japanese newspaper Nikkan Sports: “No. In that case, the Olympics will be scrapped.”

However, Mori stated his confidence the Games will still proceed as planned next year. He added: “The Olympics will be much more valuable than any Olympics in the past if we can go ahead with it after winning this battle. We have to believe this otherwise our hard work and efforts will not be rewarded.”

When questioned about Mori’s comments in a press conference today (Tuesday), Tokyo 2020 spokesman Masa Takaya maintained they reflect the president’s personal views, adding: “New dates for the Tokyo 2020 Games have been set and our mission is to deliver the Games next year.”

Mori’s comments come amid a growing tide of opinion within the global medical community that a 2021 Olympic Games may still be difficult to deliver. President of the Japan Medical Association, Yoshitake Yokokura, today said that without a vaccine against Covid-19 it will be difficult to hold the Games as currently scheduled.

“My opinion is that it will be hard to host them unless an effective vaccine is developed,” Yokokura said, according to Japanese news agency Kyodo News. However, Yokokura declined to state whether his organisation would directly oppose staging the Games if such a vaccine is not available.

He added: “The global state of infections at that particular time will be a key issue. It will be difficult even if the situation in Japan has become better if infections continue to spread abroad.”

Tokyo 2020 and the IOC have also recently been at odds over the issue of who will be responsible for the added costs caused by the postponement, which Japanese media have speculated may add a further JPY300bn (€2.58bn/$2.81bn) to the $12.6bn budget before the postponement.

Discussing cost-cutting options, Mori today floated the prospect of joint opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics and Paralympic Games. Under the proposal, the Paralympics would join the Olympic opening ceremony on July 23, and the Olympic closing ceremony would tie into the Paralympics event on September 5.

Takaya, stating that the JPY300bn figure has never been mentioned, added that joint ceremonies had been discussed. He said: “Due to the impact of coronavirus, the situation next year will be completely different. We have to review key areas, including the ceremonies.”