Tokyo 2020 Olympics could still be cancelled as organiser casts fresh doubt

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The head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee, Toshiro Muto, has refused to rule out a last-minute cancelation of the 2020 games as coronavirus cases continue to rise.

With a further 10 positive cases among those involved in the event across the last 24 hours, the total number of people affected has risen to 68 despite careful precautions.

At a news conference ahead of the beginning of the games on Friday, Muto said that he would be keeping an eye on infection numbers and will hold talks with organisers if necessary.

After the games were pushed back a full year from their intended date, events are planned to go ahead with very limited or no spectators following rising fears in the Japanese capital.

"We can't predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases," said Muto.

"We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again.

"At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises."

Muto, who is a former top financial bureaucrat, is described as being "known for his careful choice of words" by Sky Sports, has fears that cases will continue to rise.

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The update comes after organisers agreed to ban fans with Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa insisting that events will still go ahead just without fans inside venues.

The state of emergency in Tokyo will be running until after the games have finished on August 22, but that might not be enough to keep athletes and staff safe.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga had said: "Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants and not to let the infections spread again to the rest of the nation, we need to strengthen our countermeasures.

"Given the situation, we will issue a state of emergency for Tokyo."

Seiko Hashimoto, the president of this year's Olympic Games, admitted the situation regarding spectators is "regrettable" and apologised to those who have purchased tickets.

He said: "We need to issue a message which is strong and easy to understand from the point of view of preventing the further spread [of the virus]."

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