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SPORTS

Virus vaccine key for Olympics go-ahead in 2021

SPORTS By AFP | July 23rd 2020
Visitors wearing protective face masks at the Olympic rings. [Reuters]

The development of a coronavirus vaccine or treatment will be key to allowing the postponed Tokyo 2020 games to open in a year’s time, organising committee president Yoshiro Mori said yesterday.

Asked what factors will be crucial for the rescheduled Games to go ahead, Mori said “it would be whether the coronavirus woe is settling down.”

“Specifically, the first point will be that a vaccine or drug has been developed,” he said in an interview with national broadcaster NHK, published yesterday.

Asked whether Tokyo could hold the Games if the virus situation remained unchanged, Mori said: “If things continue as they are now, we couldn’t.”

But he said that scenario was hypothetical. “I can’t imagine a situation like this will continue for another year,” he said

Tokyo 2020 should have been opening on Friday, but the Games were postponed in March as the coronavirus spread across the globe, marking the worst disruption to an Olympics since two editions were cancelled during World War II.

The Games are now set to open on July 23, 2021, but recent polls have shown less public enthusiasm for hosting the event, as virus cases show a resurgence in Japan.

Just one in four people in Japan want to see the delayed Tokyo Games held next year, with most backing either further delay or cancellation, according to a survey published by Kyodo News this week.

Most of those backing a delay or cancellation said they simply didn’t believe the pandemic could be contained in time for the Games.

But Mori said reducing the number of spectators would be tough.

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