The president of the Olympic organizing committee says the 2021 Games may not be possible if current coronavirus conditions continue.
In an interview with Japanese broadcaster NHK, Yoshiro Mori said he was hopeful the pandemic will be less severe next year but that the Olympics would have to be scrapped if current levels of infections and deaths persisted.
“If this kind of situation (with COVID-19) continues, is it possible to hold the games?” Mori was asked by NHK.
“If current situation continues, we couldn’t,” Mori replied in Japanese, according to a translation from The Associated Press.
The Tokyo Olympics, which have already been postponed once due to the pandemic, are scheduled to open July 23, 2021.
The International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers have expressed confidence that the games will still take place next year though have said they would not postpone the event again and would instead cancel the Olympics if the spread of the virus is not curbed.
“It would be too much for us to answer each of these hypothetical questions,” Mori said. “I don’t think this situation will last for another year.”
“Whether the Olympics can be done or not is about whether humanity can beat the coronavirus,” he added. “Specifically, to develop a vaccine or drug is the first point.”
Current plans call for the Olympics to include 11,000 Olympic athletes and 4,400 Paralympic athletes as well as 42 different venues. However, it is still unclear if fans will be permitted to view the events or if the athletes will have to be quarantined.
Roughly 1,000 people have died from the coronavirus in Japan thus far.