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Jan. 29, 2021, 10:51 a.m. EST

Olympic Committee says Tokyo Games are still on — possibly without spectators

By Weston Blasi

The future of the Tokyo Olympics is in question after a report from the Times of London claimed that Japan had privately concluded that the Games would not take place, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic. In recent weeks, Japan has declared a state of emergency and seen rising cases of COVID-19.

The Japanese government has since denied speculation that the Olympics will be called off.

“Some news reports circulating today are claiming that the Government of Japan has privately concluded that the Tokyo Olympics will have to be canceled because of the coronavirus. This is categorically untrue,” the Japanese government wrote in a statement.

“We will be implementing all possible countermeasures against COVID-19 and will continue to work closely with the IOC, the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government in our preparations for holding a safe and secure Games this summer.”

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International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach recently said, however, that fans may not be able to attend the games, his first admission of that reality.

“This I cannot tell you,” Bach responded when asked if fans would be able to attend. “Our priority is to ensure safe Olympic Games, and we will do whatever is needed to organize safe Olympic Games.”

The International Olympic Committee has similarly rebuffed talk that the Tokyo Games would be canceled. In an email to MarketWatch on Friday the IOC press office said, “Together with its Japanese partners and friends, the IOC is fully concentrated on and committed to the successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this year.”

IOC members  recently said that if the Olympics couldn’t be held as scheduled, they would be canceled, not postponed again.

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The postponement of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics marked only the fourth time since 1896 that the Olympics did not proceed as planned. The other postponements were in 1916, 1940 and 1944, during world wars.

The 2021 Olympics in Tokyo will still be branded “Tokyo 2020,” the IOC has confirmed to MarketWatch.

Over 80% of people polled in Japan have said they think the Tokyo Olympics should be canceled or postponed , or believe the Olympics won’t happen at all, according to  Associated Press .

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