Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled if pandemic not over by 2021: Games chief

The Japan Medical Association President Yoshitake Yokokura thinks it will be difficult to hold the Olympics without an effective coronavirus vaccine.
The Tokyo 2020 organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said on Tuesday that the postponed Tokyo Olympics will be cancelled if the coronavirus pandemic isn't brought under control by next year


The pandemic has already forced a year-long delay of the Games, which are now scheduled to open on July 23, 2021, but Tokyo 2020 president Mori said no further postponement was possible.


In an interview with Japan's Nikkan Sports daily, Mori was categorical when asked if the Olympics could be delayed until 2022 if the pandemic remains a threat next year, replying: "No." "In that case, it's cancelled," Mori said.


Mori said the Games had been cancelled previously only during wartime and compared the battle against coronavirus to "fighting an invisible enemy".


If the virus is successfully contained, "we'll hold the Olympics in peace next summer", he added. "Mankind is betting on it." Under heavy pressure from athletes and sports associations, Japanese organisers and the International Olympic Committee agreed in March to a year-long postponement of the Games.


Organisers and Japanese officials have said the delayed Olympics will be a chance to showcase the world's triumph over the coronavirus, but questions have arisen about whether even a year's postponement is sufficient.


Tokyo Olympics unrealistic without a vaccine?


The head of Japan's medical association thinks it will be difficult to hold the Olympics without an effective coronavirus vaccine.


I hope vaccines and drugs will be developed as soon as possible, Japan Medical Association President Yoshitake Yokokura said Tuesday.


Japan is under a month long state of emergency amid a rapid increase of infections throughout the country, where hospitals are overburdened.


Yokokura did not say whether he opposes the Olympics without a vaccine.


The key is the situation with the infections at that point. If the infections are under control only in Japan, it will still be difficult to hold the games unless the pandemic is over in the rest of the world, he said.


Experts have said it could take 12-18 months or longer to develop a vaccine that is safe and effective for clinical use.


Japan has 13,576 reported virus cases, plus 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year, with 389 deaths, the health ministry said Tuesday.

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