Tokyo 2021 #1YearToGo

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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe has insisted the country will host this year's Olympic and Paralympic Games "without problem as planned", despite growing international concern over the coronavirus pandemic.

Speaking at a press conference today, Abe refused to waver from the stance adopted by Japanese officials and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that Tokyo 2020 will take place as scheduled.

The COVID-19 virus, which has so far killed more than 5,600 people and infected over 150,000 worldwide, has spread to over 130 countries, fuelling speculation and suggestions the Olympics and Paralympics will be postponed or cancelled.

The Greek leg of the Tokyo 2020 Torch Relay was cancelled this week, while numerous events, including Olympic qualifiers and test events, have been impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

But Tokyo 2020 and the IOC have repeatedly insisted the Olympics will open as planned on July 24.

"We will overcome the spread of the infection and host the Olympics without problem as planned," Abe said.

The Japanese Prime Minister also said delaying the Games was "not even mentioned" on a telephone call he had with Donald Trump after the United States President suggested postponing them because of the virus.

Abe said Japan, which has reported just under 800 cases of COVID-19 and 22 deaths, did not need to declare a national emergency.

He added that Japan was following the advice of the World Health Organization (WHO), which declared the virus a pandemic earlier this week.

A Japanese Government spokesperson insisted the WHO declaration had not changed Japan's plans to proceed with the Games as scheduled.

Any decision on a possible cancellation or postponement of Tokyo 2020 rests with the IOC.

In the Host City Contract signed by Tokyo 2020 in 2013, the IOC has the right to terminate the Games should they not take place in 2020.

There is no reference to a postponement.

The IOC can also cancel the Games "in the event of war, civil disorder or boycott, or if the organisation believes that the safety of participants would be threatened ‘for any reason whatsoever’".

IOC President Thomas Bach said earlier this week the organisation would follow WHO advice on Tokyo 2020.

"Nineteen weeks from the Opening Ceremony, we are strengthened in this commitment by many authorities and sports organisations around the world who are taking so many significant measures to contain the spread of the coronavirus," Bach said.

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