Japanese Minister Says 2021 Tokyo Olympics Must be Held ‘at Any Cost’

The Tokyo Olympics must be held “at any cost”, Japan’s Olympic minister, Seiko Hashimoto, has said, in a further sign that hopes are fading for a “post-pandemic” celebration of sport in the city next summer.

“Everyone involved with the Games is working together to prepare, and the athletes are also making considerable efforts towards next year,” Hashimoto told reporters on Tuesday.

The former Olympian suggested the priority had shifted from planning for the “complete Games” once favoured by the outgoing prime minister, Shinzo Abe, towards an event that would enable athletes to compete regardless of the status of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I think we have to hold the Games at any cost,” she said. “I want to concentrate all our efforts on measures against the coronavirus.”

There is also a growing belief within national Olympic committees that the Games will go ahead following lengthy discussions over the summer about how they can be staged safely. The Guardian understands that proposals under discussion include:

  • Potentially keeping athletes in preparation camps for longer before they move into the Olympic village, enabling them to be tested regularly for Covid-19 and cleared before competing.
  • Asking athletes to leave the athletes’ village immediately after they have competed, rather than stay until after the closing ceremony as is traditional.
  • Having reduced capacities in stadiums observing social distancing rules.

However, suggestions that there could be a downsized Olympics, with fewer athletes and staff, are being downplayed by senior sources.

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SOURCE: The Guardian, Justin McCurry