Japan’s deputy high minister has said the Tokyo Olympics are “cursed”, as speculation mounts that the Games will have to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Taro Aso, who has a history of making gaffes, told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the Olympics appeared to be blighted by world events every 40 years.
Japan had planned to host the summer and winter Olympics in 1940, nonetheless the 2nd world war compelled the cancellation of each Games.
Forty years later, many nations, including the US, China and Japan, boycotted the Moscow Olympics in dispute at the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
“It’s a swear that’s happened every 40 years – it’s the cursed Olympics, and that’s a fact,” Aso said.
As Japanese officials and International Olympic Committee again insisted the Games would walk ahead as planned, it emerged that the Tokyo 2020 organising committee’s chief, Yoshiro Mori, had impartial lately attended a meeting with a senior sports activities official who had since tested certain for the virus.
Mori, a extinct high minister, was at the same 10 March meeting, held to speak about last year’s Rugby World Cup, as the deputy head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Kozo Tashima, who tested certain on Tuesday.
Mori, who’s 82 and has lung cancer, has now not shown symptoms and doesn’t meet the requirements for a take a look at, an official from his place of work told Reuters.
About 60 other folks attended the meeting, with Mori seated about 10 metres away from Tashima on the alternative facet of the table, according to Jun Kusumoto, a spokesman for the Rugby World Cup organising committee. Health authorities have contacted other attendees who are idea to be at threat.
“[Mori] goes to hospital three occasions a week for dialysis, so if he develops a fever or has other symptoms, a doctor can be able to take a look at for it,” the official from Mori’s place of work said.
The chief cabinet secretary, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters that the high minister, Shinzo Abe, had met Mori on Monday, nonetheless did now not straight address a quiz about whether Abe can be tested.
Aso, who doubles as finance minister, said holding the Games this summer would “now not make sense” if other nations have been unable to ship their athletes.
“As the high minister said, it’s desirable to maintain the Olympics in an setting where everyone feels safe and happy. Nonetheless that’s now not something Japan alone can make a determination.”
Tokyo 2020 organisers said a diminutive-known Japanese swimmer who competed in the 1996 Atlanta Games would receive the Olympic torch during a scaled-back handover ceremony in Athens later on Thursday.
Naoko Imoto, who works in Greece for Unicef, had been approached by organisers after virus-related travel restrictions averted a Japanese delegation from flying to Athens to receive the symbolic flame, which is due to arrive in Japan on Friday.
“We determined yesterday that we felt it was necessary for a Japanese person to undertake this characteristic,” the organising committee’s chief executive, Toshiro Muto, told reporters.