Toshiro Muto, the head of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee said a last-minute cancellation of the Games is still a possibility amidst rising COVID cases in Japan, and a sprinkling of athletes testing COVID positive. On Tuesday, Mr. Muto said at a press conference that “We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases”.
Organizers of the Games said that 67 people accredited for the Olympics in Tokyo have tested positive since July 1. Five people have tested positive so far in the Olympic Village, heightening fears that the influx of thousands of athletes, officials, and media will add to a spike in cases in Japan.
Olympics chief Thomas Bach revealed “doubts” and “sleepless nights” over the postponed Tokyo Games on Tuesday, he said the cancellation was not an option. Speaking at the International Olympic Committee (IOC) session, Bach said the unprecedented step of postponing the Games “weighed on me” as it proved more complicated than he thought. Bach stated that over the past 15 months IOC had to make many decisions on very uncertain grounds. He spoke of doubts every day and sleepless nights along the way. Bach also added “This also weighed on us, it weighed on me. But to arrive at this day today, we had to give confidence, had to show a way out of this crisis,” He said that this Olympics could be a testament to the Japanese people for what they achieved, insisting that the games will send a message of peace, solidarity, and resilience.
On Tuesday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that the world needs to see that Japan can stage a safe Olympics. “The world is faced with great difficulties,” Suga told International Olympic Committee members in a closed-door meeting at a hotel in Tokyo, adding that “we can bring success to the delivery of the Games.” “Such fact has to be communicated from Japan to the rest of the world,” Suga said through an interpreter. “We will protect the health and security of the Japanese public.” Suga acknowledged Japan’s path through the pandemic toward the Olympics had gone “sometimes backward at times.” “But vaccination has started, and after a long tunnel, an exit is now in our sight,” Suga said.
The prime minister’s office said on Monday that more than 21% of Japan’s 126 million population has been inoculated. “Billions of people around the world will follow and appreciate the Olympic Games,” the IOC leader said.
About 80% of athletes have been vaccinated. Israel has 90 athletes attending the Games, most of them are arriving in Tokyo this week. All of the members of Israel’s delegation are vaccinated. Olympic and Japanese officials have staunchly defended the Games, which are being held in a strict biosecure “bubble” with testing daily.