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Japan could postpone its Games to end of the year

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Japan’s government has asked schools to close and encouraged the curtailment of events, including sports meetings, that could attract large crowds

Tokyo’s Olympic 2020 contract allows it to postpone the Games until the end of the year, Japan’s Olympics minister said yesterday, amid concern the coronavirus could disrupt the event.

“The contract calls for the Games to be held within 2020. That could be interpreted as allowing a postponement,” Seiko Hashimoto said in response to a lawmaker’s question in parliament.

However, Japan’s government and host city Tokyo were still committed to hosting the Games, due to begin on 24 July, she added. And under the hosting agreement, the right to cancel the Games belongs to the IOC.

Thomas Bach, head of the IOC, reiterated yesterday that preparations were still underway for a “successful” Games in Tokyo.

Any halt to the Games would be costly.

The latest budget is 1.35trillion yen, with Japan’s government providing 120bn yen to build the Olympic Stadium and 30bn yen toward the cost of the 2020 Paralympics, Hashimoto said.

Japan’s Board of Audit put government spending between the bid in 2013 and 2018 at 1.06trillion yen.

To curb the coronavirus, Japan’s government has asked schools to close and encouraged the curtailment of events, including sports meetings, that could attract large crowds.

Reuters