The Tokyo Olympics could be postponed until the end of 2020 in a bid to
halt the spread of the coronavirus.
Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto has told lawmakers that Japan’s agreement
with the IOC potentially allows them to delay the Games taking place.
’The contract calls for the Games to be held within 2020. That could be
interpreted as allowing a postponement,’ Seiko Hashimoto said in response to a
lawmaker’s question in parliament.
At present, the Tokyo Olympic Games are planned to run from July 24 until
August 9 and both Japan and the IOC have insisted they are committed to running
the event to schedule.
Under the hosting agreement, the right to cancel the Games belongs to the
’We are doing all we can to ensure that the Games go ahead as planned,’
Hashimoto told parliament.
Any halt to the Games would be costly.
The latest budget is 1.35 trillion yen ($12.51 billion), with Japan’s
government providing 120 billion yen (￡870m) to build the Olympic Stadium and 30
billion yen toward the cost of the 2020 Paralympics, Hashimoto said.
Test events for the Olympics have been cancelled amid the outbreak in Japan
and Dick Pound, vice-president of the IOC, has suggested that the Games could be
called off if the virus is still around by May.
At present, it shows no signs of abating. NHK, Japan’s national
broadcasting organisation, said on Tuesday that the number of infections in the
country has reached 980, including 706 people on the Diamond Prince cruise
There were also reports of a woman in Japan catching the virus for the
second time, in what is believed to be the first instance of such a case.
Suggestions have already been made that the Games could be held without any
fans in attendance in order to limit the spread of the virus. Protesters in
Japan have called for the event to be cancelled because of the outbreak.
British Cycling chief Stephen Park said that holding events in empty
stadiums could be the best way to avoid calling the event off or having it moved
to another country.