Japan to avoid Tokyo 2020 cancellation with ‘simplified’ Games

TOKYO: Japan will consider various options such as having fewer spectators and mandatory coronavirus testing for a “simplified” Olympic Games next year to avoid the outright cancellation of the event, the Yomiuri newspaper reported on Thursday.

John Coates, the head of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) inspectorate for Tokyo, has said a lack of a defence against the new coronavirus threatened the Games and organisers had to start planning for what could be a “very different” Olympics if there were no signs of Covid-19 being eradicated.

The Yomiuri, citing government and organising committee sources, said making Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests mandatory for all spectators – in addition to athletes and staff – and limiting movement in and out of the athletes village were among the options Japan would discuss with IOC.

Reuters has requested comment from Tokyo 2020 organisers, who are scheduled to hold a regular news conference later on Thursday.

IOC and Japanese government in March took the unprecedented decision to delay the Games, which had been due to start in July, for a year due to the coronavirus outbreak.

A further delay beyond 2021 has been ruled out.

The new coronavirus has infected more than 6.4 million people and killed about 380,000 around the world.

Japan has avoided the kind of explosive outbreak seen in countries such as the US and Brazil, with about 17,000 infections and 900 known deaths to date.