(ATR) Tokyo 2020 organizers push forward confidently with plans for 2021 despite growing public doubt and a rise in the number of coronavirus cases in the Japanese capital.
The Japan News Network (JNN) earlier this week released results from a survey determining 77 percent of those questioned believe that the Tokyo Olympics "cannot be held next year". Just 17 percent said they thought the Games "can be held" next year.
Tokyo 2020 spokesperson Masa Takaya said he was aware of the recent poll, however noted that numerous surveys have been tracked with varying results depending upon how questions have been posed.
"This one conducted by JNN, this survey gave only two options – either do you think the Games can happen or the Games will not happen," said Takaya, addressing domestic and international journalists on a YouTube Live media round table on Thursday.
"I’ve seen other news reports saying they have different options for the participants," Takaya said, advising that one poll offered three choices – the Games will be canceled, the Games will happen as planned and the Games should be held even if they are postponed again next year.
He said results tabulated were approximately one-third for each of the three options, even though Tokyo 2020 organizers have stated that postponing the Games a second time is not an option.
"If we perceive the public survey in that way, I can be encouraged," Takaya said, suggesting 66 percent are looking forward to the Olympic Games in 2021.
The number of daily new coronavirus infections in Tokyo reached a single-day record of more than 220 on Thursday, according to officials.
The record comes a day after the capital reported 75 new coronavirus infections, dropping to a double-digit level for the first time in seven days.
The previous high was 206 cases, set on April 17 — 10 days after Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe declared a state of emergency in Tokyo and six other prefectures.
Recently re-elected Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike and officials have been striving to quell a rebound in infections since a nationwide state of emergency was lifted in late May.
"While the city is testing more, the rising number of new infections makes it clear that greater caution is necessary," Koike said, during a meeting of the city’s task force on Thursday.
Despite the uptick in cases, Takaya said he was enthused by the ongoing play of the Japanese professional baseball and soccer leagues.
"The sport scenes have just come back – these two sports leagues are about bringing smiles to fans and when we see such energetic faces united by those sports scenes I have been very encouraged," he said.
"We should be able to bring about an even bigger value to society next year. Our mission is to deliver the Games next year and we are even more determined on delivering these Games next year.
"The biggest challenge ahead of us is obviously is to establish robust countermeasure on COVID-19 and this has been communicated frequently," the Tokyo 2020 spokesperson added.
Takaya also dismissed Japanese media reports that all Tokyo 2020 venues have been secured for next summer’s Games.
"I need to be very clear, that neither the Tokyo municipal government nor the organizing committee has made a formal announcement," Takaya said. "We have to make it clear this is an ongoing discussion.
"It is very unfortunate that such a report based on the optimistic views concerning the ongoing discussions – we are considering that many involved parties have been affected or referenced by these media reports and we are sorry about that."
Takaya said there are no major updates regarding policies and procedures pertaining to Olympic tickets already purchased since an announcement on March 30.
"We said at the time, Tokyo 2020 will keep studying and discussing to let those spectators use the already purchased tickets in principle.
"We are planning a refund for those willing to have the reimbursement," he said, for any ticket purchasers unable to attend the Tokyo Olympics or Paralympics in 2021.
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli
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