As the coronavirus spreads in Japan, Tokyo Olympics 2021 organizers won’t commit to a new date.
Japan is now under restrictions and lockdown to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe declaring a state of emergency. Accordingly, the CEO of Tokyo’s Olympic organizing committee, Toshiro Muto, says he’s unsure when a new date can be picked.
“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not,” the CEO said at a news conference. “We’re certainly not in a position to give you a clear answer.”
The Tokyo Olympics were postponed last month and slated for July of 2021. But Japan’s Prime Minister has received criticism for being slow to adopt lockdown measures. Some political leaders suggest he downplayed the severity of the virus in hopes of not canceling the Tokyo Olympics.
When asked about alternative plans for Tokyo Olympics 2021, Muto said efforts are focused elsewhere.
“Rather than think about alternative plans, we should put in all of our efforts [towards fighting the virus],” Muto told reporters. “Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can develop treatments, medicines, and vaccines.”
Japan has 5,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus and around 100 deaths at the time of writing. It is also the country with the world’s oldest population – which presents unique complications. COVID-19 can wreak havoc on older people, as nursing homes in the United States are experiencing.
Reporters also asked Muto about the added costs of postponing the Tokyo Olympics to 2021.
Japanese media sources estimate that the cost of postponement may range between $2 billion to $6 billion. Muto says it is too soon to know the full cost of holding back the event – and who would pay for it. He also confirmed that Tokyo 2020 has taken out insurance policies, but it’s unclear if postponement qualifies for coverage.