- Japanese government officials say they are still committed to hosting the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, despite a recent rise in COVID-19 cases.
- Seventy-seven percent of people in Japan think the games should be cancelled or rescheduled a second time, according to a national broadcaster NHK poll.
- International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound said rescheduling again is not an option but said he’s 75% sure the games will happen.
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Despite a brutal third wave of COVID-19 cases currently hitting the country, Japan’s government officials say they’re still committed to hosting the rescheduled Summer Olympics slated to begin in Tokyo in just 189 days.
The recent surge in Japan’s virus cases pushed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to impose a month-long state of emergency in Tokyo and ten other prefectures earlier this month. With cases rising and lockdowns spreading, public support for the games is waning.
According to a national broadcaster NHK poll conducted earlier this month, 77% of people in Japan think the games should be canceled or postponed a second time. These games were originally scheduled for summer 2020 and were rescheduled for 2021 last March. But rescheduling again is not an option, according to International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound.
Pound told CNN that there are no discussions being held about a further delay because it would be unrealistic due to the massive costs incurred, as well as conflicts with other global sporting events that have already been scheduled.
Still, Pound is optimistic about the likelihood of the games. He told CNN that he’s 75% confident that the Olympics will go ahead this summer, and he told The Washington Post that plans for the games look “encouraging,” despite Tokyo’s current state of emergency.
Japan had initial success in keeping COVID-19 cases low by closing the border and encouraging strict social distancing, and while the country's positive case rate is lower than the United States' or Europe's, the thousands of new cases each day are reportedly starting to overwhelm hospitals.
"They certainly had an upsurge, and that has worried them, rightly so. But they've taken the steps that are required, and they've taken them quickly," Pound, told The Post. "This is going to change. The situation will change over the next two weeks, four weeks. I think it's far too early to panic at this stage. I would give it 3-to-1 odds of going ahead on the basis of what we know today."
Pound also told CNN and The Post that he thinks all athletes should be vaccinated prior to attending the games, but only after healthcare and frontline workers have all received the vaccination. He said he also hopes widespread vaccination rollout will allow for spectators at the international event.