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Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Torch Tour Postponed As COVID-19 Cases Surge

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uestions have been raised over the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games after a recent surge of COVID-19 cases in Japan has forced organisers to postpone the tour of the Torches.

Japan has recently declared a state of emergency due to the rising number of cases in an effort to reduce the spread of COVID-19 after Japan detected the 501.V2 variant, which has been reported to be up to 70% more transmissible, and recently reached a record 2,447 daily cases of COVID-19.

The Olympic Games organisers have however remained confident the Olympics will run as scheduled from July 23 to August 8 in Tokyo, followed by the Paralympic Games between August 24 and September 5.

Despite the confidence shown by organisers and Japanese Prime Minister, Yoshihide Suga, who recently said the Olympics will go ahead in a “safe and secure” manner despite the increase in cases, International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, Dick Pound, said he is uncertain about the ability to safely hold the Olympic Games in Tokyo in 2021.

“I can’t be certain because the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus,” Pound told the BBC.

Discussing recent statements from IOC president, Thomas Bach, about the IOC’s hopes of getting athletes the COVID-19 vaccine in the second or third wave in order to safely hold the Games, Pound said once key workers and the vulnerable receive the vaccine, he hopes athletes around the world will be high up on the list of priority.

“In Canada, where we might have 300 or 400 athletes, to take 300 or 400 vaccines out of several million in order to have Canada represented at an international event of this stature, character and level, I don’t think there would be any kind of a public outcry about that,” Pound said.

“It’s a decision for each country to make and there will be people saying they are jumping the queue, but I think that is the most realistic way of it going ahead,” he said.

In a statement, the IOC said: “Together with the National Olympic Committees (NOCs), we will make all the efforts so that the NOCs encourage and assist their athletes, their officials, and their stakeholders to get vaccinated before they come to Japan.”

“We are doing so, of course, in order to contribute even more to the safe environment in the Games, but also out of respect for the Japanese people because they should be confident that everything is being done to not only protect the participants, but also the Japanese people, by having as many of the visitors as possible being vaccinated,” the IOC said.

In other Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games news, Tokyo 2020 president, Yoshiro Mori, said all 68 domestic sponsors have agreed in principle to extend their contracts to cover the delayed event.

“Partner companies told me about the difficult situation they are in because of the pandemic,” Mori said.

“But they also told me they definitely want the Games to be held, and that they are willing to offer as much support as they can.

“There must have been various debates within each company… I believe they have decided to continue cooperating with us upon realising the historical significance of what may be a once-in-a-hundred-year event,” he said.

This news is undoubtedly welcomed by the organisers after it was revealed last month the postponement of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games to 2021 will cost approximately $2.5 billion.