Doubts over Olympic Games in Tokyo resurfaced with a senior member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) saying he “can’t be certain” the postponed event will open in just over six months because of the surging pandemic in Japan and elsewhere.
The comments by Canadian IOC member Richard Pound to British broadcaster the BBC came as Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency on Thursday for Tokyo and surrounding prefectures.
“I can’t be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus,“ Pound said speaking about the future of the Tokyo Games.
Japan’s emergency order, which is largely voluntary, will be in force until the first week of February.
Tokyo reported a record of 2,447 new cases on Thursday, a 50% increase from the previous day — which was also a record day. Japan has attributed over 3,500 deaths to COVID-19, relatively low for a country of 126 million.
Pound also hinted athletes should be a high priority for a vaccine because they serve as “role models.” Pound’s comments seem to contradict IOC President Thomas Bach.
Bach said during a visit to Tokyo in November that athletes should be encouraged to get a vaccine, but would not be required to. He also indicated they should not be a priority. Bach.
The Japanese public is becoming skeptical. A poll of 1,200 people last month by national broadcaster NHK showed 63% favored another postponement or cancellation.
The IOC has said the Olympics, first delayed by the coronavirus pandemic in 2020, will not be postponed again and would be cancelled this time.