The Saturday editions of all national dailies reported that the GOJ released a statement on Friday refuting an article filed by the Times of London claiming that the GOJ has privately concluded that the Tokyo Games will have to be canceled because of the pandemic. “We are determined to make steady preparations in close coordination with the IOC, the Tokyo Olympics Organizing Committee, and the Tokyo metropolitan government in order to host safe and secure Games,” the statement said. The IOC also issued a similar statement dismissing the British report. Tokyo Governor Koike said a protest should be lodged over the report.
Although Prime Minister Suga and other Japanese officials have underscored their resolve to convene the Games, skepticism has grown rapidly over the past week or so not only among the public but also some government officials. Sankei said that just as the Abe administration gave in to mounting pressure at home and abroad to decide on one-year postponement last March, the GOJ again may be forced to make a tough call ahead of the planned start of the torch relay on March 25. The daily speculated that even if the Olympics are held, spectators may not be allowed to attend depending on the COVID-19 infection situation, explaining that the IOC has allegedly asked Tokyo to look into various options for spectators, including not allowing any.
According to the papers, IOC President Bach touched on the possibility of not allowing any spectators in a video released on Friday. “We are working to prepare for all the potential scenarios we may face in July-August this year,” the IOC chief was quoted as saying. “This goes from immigration rules, from quarantine rules, over to social distancing in the Olympic Village … to the question of spectators. How many? Can there be spectators?”
According to Sunday’s Nikkei, Bach ruled out a second postponement of the Tokyo Games during an online IOC meeting on Friday. He dismissed the Times of London’s article as “fake news.”
Meanwhile, Saturday’s Mainichi wrote that the new U.S. administration may hold the key to the fate of the Tokyo Games, explaining that the GOJ decided on the one-year postponement last March after President Trump’s suggestion on delaying the Games for a year triggered a wave of similar calls from around world. The daily speculated that President Biden may not be very enthusiastic about the Tokyo Olympics, which could end up becoming a superspreader event, since his top policy priority is combating the pandemic.