Tokyo Olympics organisers played down a poll showing plunging support for the Games on Tuesday and said a report claiming cancellation could be discussed next month was “fake news”.
The comments, less than 200 days before the postponed Games start in July, come with greater Tokyo under a state of emergency over a spike in coronavirus cases and with countries around the world battling outbreaks.
In a New Year’s address to staff, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto put a positive spin on a Kyodo news poll published Sunday showing 45 per cent want the 2020 Games delayed again, with 35 per cent favouring outright cancellation.
“The number of people calling for it to be cancelled has only risen by about five per cent,” Muto said.
“The number of people calling for it to be postponed has risen a lot, but that means those people still want it to be held,” he added.
“Of course, for it to be held, we have to guarantee that we hold a safe Games with anti-virus measures. If you think of it in those terms, I firmly believe people will get more and more behind it.”
British rowing great Matthew Pinsent has called for the Games to be cancelled and Tokyo to host the event in 2024 instead, replacing Paris.
Muto also dismissed as “fake news” a Japanese media report claiming the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo 2020 organisers would debate the fate of the Games in February.
“When these types of reports surface, some people might feel anxious about them,” said Muto.
“I want to say that we are not thinking that way at all and that these reports are wrong.”