(CNN) – The Olympics could be canceled if the COVID-19 pandemic continues next year, according to the Tokyo 2020 president.
The games are scheduled to start on July 23, 2021, as they have already been postponed for one year due to the virus outbreak.
This would be the strongest statement about the cancellation of the Olympic and Paralympic Games by organizers who have routinely declared that they are concentrating on plans to host the games.
Yoshiro Mori, President of Tokyo 2020, said in an interview with Nikkan Sports after another postponement of the event if the virus persists, “No. Then it will be canceled.”
“The Olympic Games have been canceled in the past because of problems like war. We are now fighting an invisible enemy.”
Mori reiterated that the organizers are still working on holding the games next year.
“The Olympics would be much more valuable than any past Olympics if we could continue after winning this fight,” he said.
“We have to believe that, otherwise our hard work and effort will not be rewarded.”
Meanwhile, leading Japanese doctor Yoshitake Yokokura said that without an effective vaccine, it would be “difficult to hold the Olympics”.
“I’m not saying (Japan) should or shouldn’t do it, but I expect it will be difficult,” said Yokokura, president of the Japanese Medical Association, at a press conference on Tuesday.
“I want to believe that the number of people infected (in Tokyo) is decreasing, but there are not enough tests in Japan, so it is difficult to assess whether the number of cases has decreased.
“We have to monitor the situation for another week.”
According to recent Johns Hopkins University records, there are 13,614 confirmed coronavirus cases and at least 385 deaths in Japan.
When CNN’s Tokyo 2020 PR office was contacted, it said that “the new dates for the Tokyo 2020 games are set in 2021.”
It continued: “The mission of the organizing committee is to prepare the stage for the games next year.
“We have created a framework for action against the coronavirus in which the IOC and Tokyo2020 exchange information and carry out close coordination, including WHO. We will continue this close coordination with all parties involved and discuss further steps if necessary.”
In a statement released last week, the IOC said that Japan would not make a second shift, but added that it was “very confident that all of the complex parts would come together and give us wonderful games.”