50 days to go until Tokyo 2020 - Games president Seiko Hashimoto '100%' certain Olympics will go ahead
Japan's capital is currently in a coronavirus state of emergency but the Games chief says all their focus is on making the event “safe and secure”. Hashimoto added organisers are prepared for a situation where no spectators can attend venues if there is a significant outbreak, but will keep an eye on whether the pandemic “accelerates”.
'We want to connect people' - Tokyo 2020 chief Hashimoto
Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto says she is “100%” sure the Olympics will go ahead, 50 days before the opening ceremony of the Games is due to take place.
Japan’s capital is currently in a coronavirus state of emergency which will be in place until at least June 20, as the country struggles to deal with a rise in cases and a slow start to its vaccination programme.
While there have been some surveys in popular newspapers which suggest support for the Games is fairly low among the Japanese public, Hashimoto says it is up to organisers to convince them that all measures are being considered to keep residents - and teams travelling from abroad - as safe as possible.
"I believe that the possibility of these Games going on is 100% that we will do this,” she told BBC Sport.
"The question right now is how are we going to have an even more safe and secure Games.
"The Japanese people are feeling very insecure and at the same time probably feel some frustration at us talking about the Olympics and I think that is giving rise to more voices opposing having the Games in Tokyo.
The biggest challenge will be how we can control and manage the flow of people. If an outbreak should happen during the Games time that amounts to a crisis or an emergency situation then I believe we must be prepared to have these Games without any spectators.
"We are trying to create as complete a bubble situation as possible so we can create a safe and secure space for people who come in from overseas as well as people who are in Japan, the residents and citizens of Japan."
A decision on whether spectators will be able to attend events will be made this month, but as Hashimoto has hinted, the situation is fluid and crowds may need to be shut out if cases escalate.
No overseas fans will be able to enter the country, reducing the risk of transmission, but the Tokyo 2020 chief - herself a former speed skater and track cyclist - admits that it has caused her “pain” to make that decision, as athletes may miss out on a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” for their family and friends to watch them compete at an Olympics in person.
'State of emergency in Tokyo to continue till 20th June' - Hashimoto
It appears, though, that should there be a rise in case numbers, the Games will continue to go ahead with new measures to ensure safety - although Hashimoto admits there is a limit.