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'We can't predict what will happen'

Olympics committee chief refuses to rule out last-minute cancellation

Despite the Tokyo Olympics' opening ceremony being just three days away, the chief of the organizing committee still isn't ruling out a last-minute cancellation.

Toshiro Muto, chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, was asked in a news conference Tuesday if the Olympics could still be canceled due to COVID-19, and he didn't rule out that possibility, Reuters reports

"We can't predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases," Muto said. "So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases. We have 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." 

The Olympics were originally scheduled for 2020 but were delayed a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan is to go forward without any spectators, but there has been opposition to holding the games in Japan, where the COVID-19 vaccine rollout has been slow. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshide Suga earlier this month declared a new state of emergency set to last through the Olympics because "the number of infected cases in the area including Tokyo has been increasing." 

According to Reuters, "there have been 67 cases of COVID-19 infections in Japan among those accredited for the games since July 1." On Monday, it was revealed that an alternate on the U.S. women's gymnastics team tested positive for COVID-19, the first confirmed case among one of the American athletes who traveled to Tokyo for the games, The Washington Post reports. Muto's comments Tuesday came after International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach previously said that canceling the Olympics was not an option.