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Tokyo Olympics leader doesn’t rule out canceling games at last minute

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(NEW YORK) — The chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee addressed concerns of rising COVID-19 cases during a press conference on Tuesday and did not rule out the possibility of a last-minute cancellation of the games.

“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases. I think that is all I can say at this juncture,” said Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto, in a response translated from Japanese.

Muto said the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee will continue to monitor cases and make decisions based on the current situation at hand.

“We agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises,” Muto said.

As of Tuesday, Tokyo Olympic organizers said 71 people accredited to the games, including athletes in the Olympic Village, have tested positive for the virus just days ahead of the opening ceremonies set for Friday.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said last week there is “zero” risk of athletes in the village passing on the virus to Japanese citizens or other residents of the village, according to the Associated Press.

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto recognized the public’s general concern over hosting the games during the Tuesday press conference.

“The problems [with the Olympics] have given rise to many people feeling discontent and anxiety about the Tokyo Games,” Hashimoto said in Japanese.

Hashimoto said “safety is paramount” and promised to give the general public of Japan a “sense of security” throughout the games.

At the beginning of the month, Japan announced a state of emergency due to large outbreaks in the greater Tokyo area, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

As of Tuesday, the country reported 2,477 new cases.

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