Tokyo 2020 working toward new date, but virus clouds future


TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo Olympics organisers are focusing on their new Games start date in 2021, they stressed on Friday — even if the coronavirus outbreak complicates preparations for the remade extravaganza.

Last month, the International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government agreed to postpone the Games, due to start in July this year, to 2021 because of the impact of coronavirus, which has killed over 89,000 people worldwide.

At his first remote news conference on Friday, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto emphasized that Games organisers were aiming toward the new start date of July 23, 2021, regardless of how long it takes to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

“I don’t think anybody would be able to say it is possible to get it (coronavirus) under control by next July or not,” said Muto. “We certainly aren’t in a position to give you a clear answer on that question.

“However, we have made the decision to postpone the Games by one year so all we can do is work hard to prepare for the Games in one year’s time.”

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced a state of emergency on Tuesday and, as of Friday, Japan has recorded over 6,000 cases of coronavirus and 112 deaths, according to NHK.

Because of travel restrictions imposed in the wake of coronavirus, Muto also announced that IOC President Thomas Bach’s scheduled visit to Japan in May has been cancelled.

Reporting by Jack Tarrant