Two top Japanese officials have claimed that the Tokyo Olympics could be cancelled as the country faces a devastating fourth wave.
Speaking on Thursday the members of Japan’s ruling LDP party said radical changes could be coming to the Tokyo Olympics – as one suggested that the event may not even go ahead.
Toshihiro Nikai, the secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, comments came just a day after Tokyo reached the 100-days-to-go mark on Wednesday.
He made his comments in a show recorded by Japans TBS TV.
If it seems impossible to go on with the games, they must be definitely canceled, Nikai said. If there is a surge in infections because of the Olympics, there will be no meaning to having the Olympics.
Asked if a cancellation was still an option, Nikai said: “Of course.”
But he also added: “It is important for Japan to have a successful Olympics. It is a big opportunity. I want to make it a success. We will have many issues to resolve and prepare, and it is important to take care of them one by one.”
COVID-19 cases have been surging across Japan. On Wednesday, Japan’s second-largest metropolitan area of Osaka recorded over 1,100 new cases, its highest total since January.
Japan also recorded more than 4,000 new cases, also high-marks dating back to early in the year. Japan has attributed 9,500 death to COVID-19, good by world standards but poor by results in Asia.
Taro Kono, the government minister in charge of Japans vaccine rollout, said even if the Olympics go on, there may be no fans of any kind in the venues.
He said it’s likely that the Olympics will have to held in empty venues, particularly as cases surge across the country.
This means only television cameras and still cameras will be around to record the action, joined by some reporters, judges and match officials.
The delayed 2020 Olympics are to open in just over three months on July 23, the Paralympics open on Aug. 24.
Fans from abroad have already been banned. Now even Japanese spectators could be kept away as virus cases surge across the country.
Japan was among the last major countries to begin COVID-19 inoculations when it started in mid-February.
The country is currently dependent on Pfizer’s vaccine, as it’s the only COVID-19 jab that has been approved by domestic regulators.
At the time of writing, only 1.1 million people in Japan, mostly frontline healthcare workers, have received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine so far.