The boss of the Tokyo Olympics says the Games will be “scrapped” if they cannot take place next summer.
Yoshiro Mori was responding to doubts expressed by health experts over whether the Olympics could go ahead without a vaccine or effective drugs to treat Covid-19 .
The Tokyo 2020 president insisted there would be no further delay if circumstances prevented the Games, which were due to be held this summer, from going ahead in July 2021.
“In that situation, it will be cancelled,” Mori said. “In the past, when there were such problems, like wartime, it has been cancelled. This time, we are fighting an invisible enemy. This is a gamble for mankind.”
Medical chiefs in Japan are close to agreeing that the fate of the Games hinges on finding a vaccine.
Japan Medical Association president Yoshitake Yokokura said the Olympics would be possible only if the infections are under control – not just in Japan, but globally.
Kentaro Iwata, professor of infectious disease at Kobe University, added that he was “very pessimistic” the Games could go ahead unless “in a totally different structure such as no audience, or a very limited participation”.
Meanwhile a £400,000 fund has been established to support professional athletes experiencing financial hardship due to the pandemic.
World Athletics president Seb Coe said the fund would be used to assist track and field stars who have lost most of their income due to the suspension of international competition.
“I am in constant contact with athletes around the world,” said Coe. “And I know that many are experiencing financial hardship as a consequence of the shutdown of most international sports competition in the last two months.
“Our professional athletes rely on prize money as part of their income and we’re mindful that our competition season, on both the track and road, is being severely impacted by the pandemic.”