TOKYO — Japanese officials on Friday vehemently denied a newspaper report suggesting that the Olympic Games, due to be held in the country this summer, could be cancelled.
The Tokyo Olympics originally planned for 2020 were delayed 10 months ago following the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
The local Olympics organizing committee said in a statement that the games would go forward as planned and had the support of Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Another statement from the Cabinet Secretariat on behalf of Japan’s government also dismissed the report.
“Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 will have to be cancelled. This is categorically untrue,” the statement said.
Adding that all involved, including the Swiss-based International Olympic Committee (IOC), were “working together to prepare for the successful Games this summer” and would “implement all possible countermeasures against Covid-19.”
The denials come after a British newspaper, The Times of London, citing an anonymous source that it said was a member of the ruling government coalition, reported that the games could be cancelled. It also said the government was seeking a way to announce the cancellation amid efforts to ensure Tokyo as a future host.
Manabu Sakai Japan’s deputy chief cabinet secretary and an ally of the prime minister also shot down the story. “There is absolutely no truth to this report,” he told press on Friday.
While Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike went further, calling for possible action against the newspaper.
“I don’t even know how this is being reported or how this information was obtained. In fact, I think we should lodge a complaint. That is how I feel,” she said during her regular news conference Friday.
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The IOC in a statement echoed the Japanese government’s message and said it was committed to the successful delivery of the games this year.
The Tokyo games are set to involve some 11,000 athletes and tens of thousands of coaches, officials and broadcasters.
NBCUniversal, which is the parent company of NBC News, owns the U.S. media rights to the upcoming Olympics.
Japan has reported fewer than 5,000 deaths from the coronavirus and has handled the virus better than most countries. But the surge is not tapering off in Tokyo, while vaccines have yet to be rolled-out in the country.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.