AOC deny Tokyo Games cancellation report

Photo: File
Photo: File

The Australian Olympic Committee is pushing ahead with planning for the Tokyo Games despite a bombshell report the event will be cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

It's been reported the Japan government will cancel the Games due to start in July and focus on staging it in 2032, when Brisbane hope to host the event.

"Both Japanese Prime Minister Suga and IOC President Bach have this week strongly reaffirmed their commitment to the Tokyo Olympic Games going ahead in July this year," the AOC said in a statement on Friday.

"The AOC is continuing its planning to ensuring the Australian Olympic Team arrives in Tokyo, competes and returns home safe and COVID-free.

"The AOC, Federal Government, Queensland Government and Brisbane City Council are continuing to progress the candidature for the Olympic Games to be held in Queensland in 2032 - and that process continues."

Citing an unnamed senior member of the ruling coalition, The Times newspaper said hosting in the midst of the pandemic is proving "too difficult".

"No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it's too difficult," The Times quoted the source as saying.

"Personally, I don't think it's going to happen."

Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday said in parliament he was determined to press ahead with the Games and would closely work with the Tokyo organising committee and the IOC.

Japan has been hit less severely by the pandemic than many other advanced economies, but a recent surge in cases has spurred it to close its borders to non-resident foreigners and declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and major cities.

About 80 per cent of people in Japan do not want the Games to be held this summer, recent opinion polls show, over fears the influx of athletes will spread the virus further.

Against this backdrop, the government is seeking a way to save face by announcing a cancellation that leaves the door open to Tokyo hosting at a later date, The Times report said.

IOC boss Bach reaffirmed his commitment to holding the Games this year in an interview with Kyodo News on Thursday.

"We have at this moment, no reason whatsoever to believe that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will not open on the 23rd of July in the Olympic stadium in Tokyo," Bach told Kyodo.

- Reuters