The 2020 Olympics were rescheduled to 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic, and officially, Japan is not wavering in its commitment to host the games in Tokyo starting July 23. But behind the scenes, wavering is indeed apparently happening—big time. According to an anonymous senior member of the ruling coalition who spoke to the Times, the government has privately come to the determination that the games will ultimately be canceled due to COVID-19. But, Reuters reports, Japan is publicly denying the report, with a government spokesperson issuing a rare statement to insist there's "no truth" to it and the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee saying in a statement that it is "fully focused" on hosting the event as planned. The head of the International Olympic Committee also denied the report, per ESPN.
But, according to the Times' source, the Japanese government has shifted its focus to finding a way to save face when the games are eventually canceled, and to nab the next available hosting slot, 2032, for Tokyo once again. "No one wants to be the first to say so but the consensus is that it’s too difficult" to host the games amid the ongoing pandemic, the source says. "Personally, I don’t think it’s going to happen." A Tokyo 2020 organizing committee source, however, tells Reuters, "It is very disappointing to see that the Times is developing such a tabloid-like story with an untrustworthy source." The Australian, US, and Canadian Olympic Committees also issued statements shooting down what Australia called "unfounded rumors" that the games will be cancelled. A senior IOC member had recently said the games might be played largely without fans in attendance. (Read more 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games stories.)