Decision to host Olympics ‘could go both ways’, says Kono of Japan

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The delayed Tokyo Olympics may not go as planned this summer as the COVID-19 pandemic rages on, a Japanese minister said on Thursday, saying the host must be prepared for anything.

“We have to do our best to prepare for the Games right now, but it could go both ways,” Taro Kono, minister for administrative and regulatory reform, said in an interview with the Reuters Next conference.

A global resurgence of COVID-19, including record infection levels in Japan, has raised new doubts about the games, which have been postponed for a year into 2020. The government on Wednesday extended its state of emergency well beyond the Tokyo area.

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Japanese public appetite for sporting extravagance has waned, with 77% of respondents to a poll this week saying it should be canceled or postponed. But the games – and the tourism dollars they bring in – are a top priority for Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

Suga and others have repeatedly said that the decision to go forward rests with the International Olympic Committee and that their agreement to continue preparations is valid.

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“Anything is possible, but as the host of the games we have to do whatever we can, so that when it’s a ‘go’ we can have good Olympics,” Kono said. “The Olympic Committee must think about plan B, plan C. But the situation is not easy.”

Kono, a US-trained former foreign and defense minister known for his outspoken views, has been open about his ambition to be prime minister.

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