A man with a face mask stands behind the Olympic symbols on the five intertwined rings depicted near Tokyo National Stadium.
James Matsumoto, SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images
A senior official of Japan’s ruling party says canceling this year’s Olympics in Tokyo remains an option if the coronavirus crisis becomes too severe as a fourth wave of infections rises less than 1
“If it seems impossible to do more, then we must stop resolutely,” Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, told TBS.
Cancellation is a “course” option, Nikai said. “If the Olympics were to spread an infection, then what are the Olympics for?” He added.
A key supporter of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the heavyweight party Nikai, is known for his candid comments, as many other lawmakers from the ruling parties avoid discussing the issue of hot buttons for possible repeal.
The largest sporting event in the world has already been delayed by a year and is being held without international spectators.
Japan is battling rising coronavirus infections, rising in Tokyo after the government lifted the state of emergency and Osaka suffered a record number of cases.
The government is moving forward with preparations, including social distancing measures and other restrictions on the games, due to begin on July 23, with a reduced torch relay underway.
“We will conduct (the Games) in a way that is feasible,” said Taro Kono, a popular vaccination minister in Japan, in a separate television program, according to Kyodo News. “It could be without spectators,” he added.
A little support
Polls show little support in Japan for the Games during a global pandemic. “Cancellation of the Olympics” was on trend on Twitter in Japan on Thursday with more than 35,000 tweets from users.
“If this person says so, the cancellation of the Olympics seems like a reality,” tweeted @marumaru_clm in connection with Nikai.
Olympic organizers, Japan’s National Olympic Committee and the Tokyo government did not respond immediately to requests for comment.
Legislators’ comments come when health experts raise concerns about the spread of the infection and the strain it puts on the medical system.
Japan’s top medical adviser, Shigeru Omi, has acknowledged that the pandemic has entered a fourth wave driven by mutant strains, with Kyoto University professor Hiroshi Nishiura urging a postponement of the Olympic Games.
Akira Koike, an opposition MP from the Japanese Communist Party, responded to Nikai’s comments on Twitter, saying the event was now “impossible” and the decision to cancel should be made “quickly”.
The cancellation or postponement of the games is unlikely to do much harm to Japan’s economy, but will have a greater effect on Tokyo’s services sector, a senior International Monetary Fund official said on Wednesday.