A senior Japanese ruling party official said on Thursday that cancelling this year’s Olympic Games could be an option if coronavirus infections continue to rise.
According to the Kyodo news agency, Toshihiro Nikai, the long-serving secretary general of Japan’s ruling Liberal Democratic party, said in a television interview that in the event “it is said to be impossible we would have to give up.”
It is the first time that such a senior government figure has admitted on the record that the Tokyo competition might not go ahead should the pandemic situation in Japan intensify.
Nikai is a highly influential power broker in Japanese politics, and his intervention will raise fresh doubts about whether the competition, already postponed from last year, will be held.
The comments come less than 24 hours after International Olympic Committee (IOC) vice president John Coates told reporters that cancellation is “certainly not” on the table.
“The Tokyo Games will be the light at the end of the tunnel,” he said on Wednesday.