The 2020 Summer Olympics were slated to open Tokyo last month, but were postponed until 2021 earlier this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. While the world is still grappling with the pandemic, Japan's Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto believes the Olympics should be held next summer "at any cost."
"All the people involved with the games are working together to prepare, and the athletes are also making considerable efforts toward next year under the circumstances they've been handed," she said on Tuesday. "I think we have to hold the games at any cost... I want to concentrate all our efforts on measures against the coronavirus."
Hashimoto, who also serves as the President of the Japan Skating Federation, spoke to the media earlier in September and said that Olympic organizers and Japanese officials have discussed COVID-19 countermeasures that can be taken for both the Olympics and Paralympics. The 2020 Olympics are slated to begin on July 23 of 2021 while the Paralympics will begin on August 25.
Hashimoto's latest comments echo what organizing committee leader Toshiro Muto revealed last week: the development of a coronavirus vaccine is "not a prerequisite" for the Summer Olympics to take place next summer.
As of September 6, the World Health Organization had reported "nearly" 27 million COVID-19 cases and 900,000 COVID-19 deaths.
"It's not a prerequisite," Muto said regarding a potential vaccine. "The International Olympic Committee and the WHO already discussed this matter. It's not a condition for the delivery of the Tokyo 2020 Games. A vaccine is not a requirement. Of course, if vaccines are developed we'll really appreciate it. And for Tokyo 2020 this will be great. But if you ask me if that's a condition — it's not a condition."