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Athletics Olympics will go ahead, says Games committee

THE president of the Tokyo Olympic organising committee tried to reassure the Japanese public today that the postponed games will open in just over six months.

Two polls in the last few days have shown that just over 80 per cent of Japanese people surveyed think the Olympics should be cancelled or postponed, or believe they will not take place as Covid-19 cases surge in Japan.

In what was billed as a New Year’s address, Yoshiro Mori offered a little pep talk aimed at the July 23 opening of the games.

“Spring will always come, morning will surely come even after long nights,” Mori said. “Believing in that, to give joy and hope to many people, we will do our best until the end.”

Organisers and the International Olympic Committee have repeated for months that the delayed Olympics will be able to open during the pandemic, but they have given few specifics, insisting that detailed plans will be revealed in the spring.

It’s an enormous job. More than 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes from 200 nations and territories will have to enter Japan, along with tens of thousands of other officials, coaches and judges. No decision has been made public about fans being able to attend venues. It’s also unclear if fans from abroad will be permitted.

Optimism from organisers has been put into question by a state of emergency for Tokyo and surrounding areas declared last week by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga. Japan has controlled the virus relatively well but cases are rising, with about 4,000 deaths attributed to Covid-19 in a population of 126 million.

“If I get caught up in my thoughts, or if I flinch, or get a little lost in my mind — it affects everything,” Mori said. “We have to proceed as planned. There is no other way to respond.” 

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