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Top Japanese official says cancelling Olympics remains an option

Less than 100 days before the Games are set to begin, the possibility remains that they may not happen at all

According to a report by Global News, a senior member of the ruling party in Japan has said that if the coronavirus situation becomes too dire, the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games could still be canceled. This statement comes less than 100 days until the Games are set to begin and in the midst of a rising fourth wave of infections.

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Currently, Japan is struggling with a rising number of coronavirus infections after the government ended a state of emergency. The number of infections in Tokyo is trending upward, and Osaka is experiencing a record number of cases. The government is still moving forward with plans for the Games, which includes several restrictions, social distancing measures and no international spectators, but Toshihiro Nikai, secretary-general of the Liberal Democratic Party, says that if they have to pull the plug, they will.

“If it seems impossible to do it anymore, then we have to stop, decisively,” he said. “If the Olympics were to spread infection, then what are the Olympics for?”

Another government official countered Nikai’s comments, saying they will hold the games “in a way that’s feasible.” This, he added, might mean having no spectators at all. Statements from both officials come in the midst of an anti-Olympics social media storm on Thursday, when more than 35,000 Twitter users tweeted about canceling the Games. Since the pandemic began, support for the Olympics has been low in Japan, with recent polls suggesting that at least 40 per cent of the country’s population think they should be canceled.

No decision has been made yet, but Japanese lawmakers are under mounting pressure as the Games draw near. Olympic organizers, Japan’s National Olympic Committee and the Tokyo government have not yet addressed the comments.

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