Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto has expressed doubts over the Tokyo Olympics going ahead as planned next year despite a 16-month postponement. As the Coronavirus outbreak grows in Japan, Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe issued an emergency declaration this week to battle the virus, putting the country under restriction weeks after it seemed to have contained the spread. Also Read - New Delhi World Cup Decisive For Tokyo Olympics Qualification: ISSF

The Olympics were postponed last month with a new opening set for July 23, 2021, followed by the Paralympics on Aug. 24. Also Read - Hockey | Systematic Approach And Two-way Communication Key to Rise in World Rankings: SV Sunil

“I don’t think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not. We’re certainly are not in a position to give you a clear answer,” Muto said. “We have made the decision to postpone the games by one year, so this means that all we can do is work hard to prepare for the games. We sincerely hope that come next year mankind will manage to overcome the coronavirus crisis.” Also Read - Badminton: Parupalli Kashyap Questions Selection Criteria of 8 Olympic Hopefuls, Asks Why Am I Not in National Camp?

PM Abe has been criticised for acting slow to contain the COVID-19 in the country. He has been blamed by opposing leaders that he undermined the severity of the situation and was even keen on holding the Olympics this year as planned. If that is indeed the case and the Summer Games are postponed/delayed even further, is there a back-up?

“Rather than think about alternatives plans, we should put in all of our effort. Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can development treatments, medicines and vaccines,” Muto said.

With the Tokyo Games delayed by a year, the cost of postponement is expected to be around $2 billion-$6 billion but Muto insisted it was too early to determine the exact cost, adding that insurance money has been put into use. As far as the Olympic flame is concerned, which was taken off public display earlier this week, Muto looked uncertain and refrained from commenting much on it.

“Tokyo 2020 has taken out several insurance policies. But whether the postponement of the games qualifies as an event that is covered is not clear yet,“ Muto said. “After the Olympic torch relay was cancelled, the Olympic flame was put under the management of Tokyo 2020. In the future there is a possibility it might be put on display somewhere. However, for now it is under the management of Tokyo 2020 and I’m not going to make any further comment on the issue.”