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Japan rejects Olympics cancellation report as teams back Games

Japan rejects Olympics cancellation report as teams back Games

Japan dismissed a report claiming officials view the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics as inevitable on Friday, as heavyweights from the United States, Canada and Australia said they were still preparing for the Games.

Deputy government spokesman Manabu Sakai said "there is no truth" in The Times report, which quoted an anonymous source from the ruling coalition as saying that "the consensus is that it is too difficult" to hold the Games.

It is the latest article to cast doubt on the troubled 2020 Olympics, which were postponed due to the coronavirus last year but have been hit by a surge in cases and plummeting public support.

However, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga insisted on Friday that he was "determined" to hold the event "as proof that humanity will have overcome the virus."

The Tokyo 2020 organizers said they were "totally focused on hosting the Games this summer."

And the national Olympic committees of the United States, Canada and Australia said they were preparing to send teams to Japan.

The statements from Canada and Australia contrast with those of last year, when they recalled their athletes before officials made the unprecedented decision to postpone.

However, despite denying the British report, Sakai said a decision was looming for Japan.

"At some point, naturally, we will make a decision on whether or not we will really keep it," he said.

"Until then, the Japanese government will do what it has to do and will progress and prepare for it."

Concerns have risen as Japan battles a third wave of Covid-19 infections, with polls showing that around 80 percent of Japanese are opposed to hosting the event this year.

The Olympics were never canceled in peacetime.

But the president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, said there was "no reason whatsoever" for them not to go ahead on July 23 as scheduled.

"That is why there is no plan B," he told Japan's Kyodo news agency.

- 'The Tokyo Games are on' -

Japan and the IOC took the historic step of postponing the Games last March after Australia and Canada said they would not send teams to Tokyo when the pandemic worsened.

On Friday, the executive director of the Australian Olympic Committee, Matt Carroll, dismissed another withdrawal and called the reports about the cancellation of the Games as an "unfounded rumor".

"The Tokyo Games are underway," he told reporters in Sydney.

The Executive Director of the Canadian Olympic Committee, David Shoemaker, also endorsed the Games, saying on Twitter that his organization is "confident that the Games can be organized safely and successfully."

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee did not cast a vote of confidence, but said it remained focused on preparing for the Games.

"We have not received any information to suggest that the Games will not go as planned, and our focus continues to be the health and preparation of Team USA athletes prior to this summer's Games," he tweeted the USOPC.

Japan rejects Olympics cancellation report as teams back Games

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she had no idea where The Times got the information from, insisting the cancellation had not been discussed.

"We have been firmly coordinating with the government, the organizing committee and the IOC ... and the truth is that there has been no talk of cancellation or postponement," she told reporters.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto told AFP this week that the organizing committee is "unwavering" in holding the event this year, but he couldn't rule out doing it without spectators.

But nationally there are growing doubts, with opposition lawmakers in parliament calling on Thursday for the Games to be postponed or canceled.

And on Friday, the Tokyo Medical Association called for the event to be held behind closed doors.

"They must give up the idea of ​​having the party of the century by inviting people from various countries," its president, Haruo Ozaki, told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper.

"The feasibility of doing it without spectators should be considered."

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