TOKYO (Reuters) – A Tokyo 2020 executive board member said on Friday organisers will need to monitor the novel coronavirus situation until next spring before deciding whether to go ahead with the Summer Olympics, Kyodo News reported.
The comment by lawmaker Toshiaki Endo, one of six vice presidents on the board and a former Olympics minister, marks the first time an organising committee executive has remarked on the timing for a decision on the Games, the news agency said.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Japanese government took the unprecedented decision in March to delay the Games, which had been due to start in July. A further delay beyond 2021 has been ruled out.
Previously, John Coates, head of the IOC’s inspectorate for Tokyo, said that if by October the new coronavirus outbreak was “being contained but not eradicated” decisions would have to be made on streamlining the Games.
Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said on Thursday that organisers were looking at ways to simplify the Games.
Also on Friday, public broadcaster NHK reported that organisers had decided against holding a large scale event marking the one-year countdown to the Games because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Organisers are seeking to cut costs related to the postponement and are also conscious of pandemic risks.
“We cannot hold a lively event while the risk of infection continues,” NHK quoted an unnamed organising committee source as saying.
Tokyo 2020 organising committee representatives did not immediately respond a request for comment.
At last year’s countdown event, organisers unveiled the medals at a ceremony attended by IOC President Thomas Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and countdown clocks were launched in central Tokyo.
The new coronavirus has infected more than 6.5 million people and killed about 386,000 around the world. Japan has reported some 17,000 infections and 900 known deaths to date.
(Reporting by Chris Gallagher and Jack Tarrant; editing by Jane Wardell/Peter Rutherford)