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Competition underway in Tokyo amid COVID surge, chief organizer doesn't rule out cancelling games

Last Updated Jul 21, 2021 at 10:41 am EDT

Canada's Christine Sinclair (12) scores a goal against Japan at the 2020 Summer Olympics. (Silvia Izquierdo/AP)

Two days out from the opening ceremony at the Tokyo Olympics and Canadian athletes are already in action.

This despite lingering doubts as to whether the games will even continue as planned if COVID-19 cases spike.

The Canadian women’s softball team defeated Mexico 4-0 in an opening round game on Wednesday. The women’s soccer team took on host Japan, playing them to a 1-1 draw. Christine Sinclair scored the opening goal in her 300th international appearance for Canada

The chief of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee says he has not ruled out cancelling the games. Speaking at a new conference on Tuesday, Toshiro Muto said he would be keeping a close eye on the rising infections.

“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again,” said Muto.

“At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”


The head of the World Health Organization says the Tokyo Olympics should not be judged by how many COVID-19 cases arise.

WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that eliminating risk of spread entirely is not possible, rather how the inevitable infections that arise are handled is what matters.

As of Wednesday, 79 people involved with the Olympics have tested positive for the virus. This includes five cases from inside the Olympic village.

Cases across Japan are surging, the country saw 3,836 new cases on Tuesday, raising the seven-day average to 3,319.

Tokyo alone saw more than 1,800 new infections on Wednesday, marking a six-month high for the metropolitan area.

“What we have worried about is now actually happening,” Japan Medical Association President Toshio Nakagawa said at a weekly news conference.

“The surge in cases has been expected whether we have the Olympics or not, and we are afraid that there will be an explosive increase in cases regardless of the Olympics.”

Tokyo is now under its fourth state of emergency since the pandemic began. The latest version will cover the entire span of the Olympics – lasting until Aug. 22.

The opening ceremony is Friday at 7 a.m. ET. The Olympic Games close Aug. 8, to be followed by the Paralympic Games from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.

Brisbane was picked Wednesday to host the 2032 Olympics, the inevitable winner of a one-city race steered by the IOC to avoid rival bids.

The Games will go back to Australia 32 years after the popular 2000 Sydney Olympics. Melbourne hosted in 1956.

“We know what it takes to deliver a successful Games in Australia,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison told International Olympic Committee voters in an 11-minute live video link from his office.

With files from the Associated Press

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