Tokyo Organizing Committee Chief Won't Rule Out a Last-Minute Cancellation of the Olympic Games

"At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises," Tokyo organizing committee chief Toshiro Muto said

Olympic rings
Photo: Carl Court/Getty

The head of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee isn't ruling out a last-minute cancellation of the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

On Tuesday, Tokyo organizing committee chief Toshiro Muto revealed in a press conference that the famed sporting event could still be canceled due to increasing COVID-19 cases in competing athletes, according to Reuters.

When asked if the Games could be brought to a halt ahead of Friday's opening ceremony, Muto, 78, explained that he would watch infection rates and discuss appropriate measures with other organizers, should it become a necessary thing to do.

"We will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases," he said, per the outlet. "We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again."

"At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises," Muto added.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics
Man in mask standing near Olympic rings in Tokyo. BEHROUZ MEHRI/AFP via Getty

The Tokyo Olympics are scheduled to officially begin on Friday and run through August 8. A spokesperson for the event told Reuters that organizers are "concentrating 100% on delivering successful Games."

The international event, which was meant to take place in the summer of 2020 but was rescheduled due to the pandemic, has various safety protocols in place, including a ban on all spectators.

"No spectators will be allowed into any venues in Tokyo during the Olympic Games," the IOC said in a statement July 8, the same day the government of Japan declared a state of emergency in Tokyo as COVID-19 cases surged in the host city.

The blanket spectator ban had been previously agreed upon by the IOC, International Paralympic Committee and Tokyo organizers in June in the event that such a crisis would be declared.

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As athletes and organizers from around the world continue to arrive in Tokyo, several have already tested positive for COVID-19.

Among them is tennis prodigy Coco Gauff, who announced Sunday that she is withdrawing from her first Olympics. "I am so disappointed to share the news that I have tested positive for COVID and won't be able to play in the Olympic Games in Tokyo," Gauff, 17, wrote at the time.

Nearly 10,000 of the 80,000 unpaid Olympic volunteers previously pulled out of the event, with many citing COVID-19 concerns, while a recent study found almost 60 percent of people in Japan want the Summer Olympics to be canceled for the same reasoning.

Elsewhere, Toyota — one of the Tokyo Olympics' top sponsors — announced Monday that it has decided to pull its TV ads related to the Summer Games as well.

To learn more about all the Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls, visit Watch the Tokyo Olympics beginning July 23rd and the Tokyo Paralympics beginning August 24th on NBC.

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