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Tokyo Olympics cannot be held under current circumstances: PM Shinzo Abe

Prime News, International Sport and Games, Olympics, Tokyo (Japan), March 24:- Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday this summer’s Tokyo Olympics cannot be held under current circumstances due to the new coronavirus pandemic, suggesting for the first time that the games may have to be postponed.

“If I’m asked whether we can hold the Olympics at this point in time, I would have to say that the world is not in such a condition,” Abe told a Parliamentary session, adding he hopes to hold talks with International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach over the issue.

“It’s important that not only our country but also all the other participating countries can take part in the games fully prepared,” Abe said.

The premier’s comments came a day after the IOC said it will study alternative plans for the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to open on July 24, amid the global outbreak, and make an assessment within the next four weeks.

The Japanese government will soon tell the IOC it will accept a postponement if the organisation decides on it as a precaution against the coronavirus, a source familiar with the plan said.

‘Japan is in a critical state’

Tokyo Olympic organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said he supports the IOC’s decision to review existing plans, adding representatives from Japan and the IOC will hold discussions to examine possible scenarios closely.

“Japan is in a critical state, and the situations in the United States and Europe have been abnormal,” Mori said. “We are not so foolish as to say we will do it under our first (plan).”

Abe, who has previously said he aims to hold the major sporting event in its “complete form,” told the parliamentary session, “If it is difficult to hold the games in such a way, we have to decide to postpone it, giving top priority to (the health of the) athletes.”

“Although the IOC will make the final decision (on the matter), we are of the same view that cancellation is not an option,” Abe said while vowing to work closely with the IOC and the Tokyo metropolitan government.

The IOC on Sunday officially admitted the possibility of pushing back the quadrennial event, saying it will examine various scenarios, adding that it will finalise discussions “within the next four weeks.”

“These scenarios relate to modifying existing operational plans for the games to go ahead on 24th July 2020, and also for changes to the start date of the games,” the IOC said in a statement.

Speaking at a press conference, organising committee CEO Toshiro Muto said reviewing the possibilities, including postponement, is “not easy” and the organisers are open to “all options.” (Inputs: Agencies, NGB)

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