Taro Aso highlights the 40-year cycle to make the point
Tokyo officials and IOC insist Games will go-ahead
TOKYO: Japan’s deputy prime minister has said the Tokyo Olympics are “cursed”, as speculation mounts that the Games will have to be postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Taro Aso, who has a history of making gaffes, told a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the Olympics appeared to be blighted by world events every 40 years.
Japan had planned to host the summer and winter Olympics in 1940, but the second world war forced the cancellation of both Games.
Forty years later, many countries, including the US, China and Japan, boycotted the Moscow Olympics in protest at the Soviet Union’s invasion of Afghanistan.
“It’s a problem that’s happened every 40 years – it’s the cursed Olympics, and that’s a fact,” Aso said.
As Japanese officials and International Olympic Committee again insisted the Games would go ahead as planned, it emerged that the Tokyo 2020 organising committee’s chief, Yoshiro Mori, had recently attended a meeting with a senior sports official who had since tested positive for the virus.
Mori, a former prime minister, was at the same 10 March meeting, held to discuss last year’s Rugby World Cup, as the deputy head of the Japanese Olympic Committee, Kozo Tashima, who tested positive on Tuesday.
Mori, who is 82 and has lung cancer, has not shown symptoms and does not meet the requirements for a test, an official from his office said.
Aso, who doubles as finance minister, said holding the Games this summer would “not make sense” if other countries were unable to send their athletes.
“As the prime minister said, it’s desirable to hold the Olympics in an environment where everyone feels safe and happy. But that’s not something Japan alone can decide.”