Tokyo Olympics could still be cancelled, organiser admits

The head of the organising committee has not ruled out the games being cancelled, as they are scheduled to start on Friday

Tokyo Olympics starts on Friday
(Image credit: Masashi Hara/Getty Images)

The Tokyo Olympics could still be cancelled, the organiser has said. 

Toshiro Muto, the head of the organising committee of the delayed 2020 Games, has admitted the event could still be cancelled as it is scheduled to get underway on Friday (July 23), as the number of coronavirus case in Japan continues to rise. 

Coronavirus is also impacting athletes and staff landing in Tokyo in preparation for the games, as a number of people have tested positive for the virus in the Olympic Village in Tokyo and after their arrival. 

The British Olympic Association also announced on Sunday (July 18) that six athletes and two staff members from the athletics team , after arriving in Tokyo last week, had come into close contact with a person who has tested positive for Covid, with all eight being put into self isolation in their hotel rooms.  

In a press conference held on Tuesday (July 20), as reported by the Metro newspaper, Muto said: “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.

“‘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.” 

The 2020 Tokyo Games were postponed last summer due to the pandemic, but have been in doubt ever since as coronavirus cases in Japan have fluctuated over the last year. 

>>> Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games cycling schedule: when to watch the racing

After hitting a peak in May of 7,000 cases a day, the infection rate did fall in Japan but has started to rise again, hitting more than 1,000 per day on July 17 and 18. 

The Tokyo Olympics start with the opening ceremony on Friday, followed by the first events of the games, archery.

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Alex Ballinger

Alex Ballinger is editor of BikeBiz magazine, the leading publication for the UK cycle industry, and is the former digital news editor for After gaining experience in local newsrooms, national newspapers and in digital journalism, Alex found his calling in cycling, first as a reporter, then as news editor responsible for Cycling Weekly's online news output, and now as the editor of BikeBiz. Since pro cycling first captured his heart during the 2010 Tour de France (specifically the Contador-Schleck battle) Alex covered three Tours de France, multiple editions of the Tour of Britain, and the World Championships, while both writing and video presenting for Cycling Weekly. He also specialises in fitness writing, often throwing himself into the deep end to help readers improve their own power numbers.  Away from the desk, Alex can be found racing time trials, riding BMX and mountain bikes, or exploring off-road on his gravel bike. He’s also an avid gamer, and can usually be found buried in an eclectic selection of books.