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'The media would love if I say it's a cursed Olympics - but it's a reality' - Japan deputy Prime Minister on games threat

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Japan's Taro Aso. Photo: Getty Images

Japan's Taro Aso. Photo: Getty Images

Japan's Taro Aso. Photo: Getty Images

As doubts grow over whether the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead as scheduled in July, Japan's deputy Prime Minister has suggested they have become the latest victim of the Games '40 year curse'. 

Taro Aso claimed the Olympics get entwined in global affairs every 40 years, saying it is no surprise the Covid-19 pandemic should threaten to cancel or postpone this year's Games.

World War II forced the 1940 Summer and Winter Games in Japan to be cancelled while in 1980 the United States led a boycott of the Games in protest against the Soviet Union's invasion of Afghanistan.

"The Sapporo Winter Olympics, which should have happened in 1940, went away, the next Moscow games in 1980 was half blown away because of the boycott of Western countries.

"Another 40 years makes it this year. The mass media would love this expression if I say it's a cursed Olympics — but it's a reality."

In another development Japan Olympic Committee board member Kaori Yamaguchi, a judo bronze medalist at the 1988 Olympics, called for the Games to be postponed because athletes are unable to prepare adequately.

"The Olympics should not be held in a situation people in the world can't enjoy," she told the Nikkei newspaper.

"As far as I can tell, athletes in the United States and Europe are unable to train as normal and finish their qualifying matches. That makes it impossible for them to appear well prepared at the start, with all the associated risks."

The final decision on whether the Games go ahead rests with the International Olympic Committee rather than the host city.

Meanwhile, Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori has not been included in a list of those thought to be at risk of Covid-19 despite meeting with another Olympic official who was diagnosed with the virus earlier this week.

Mori is confirmed to have attended the same meeting on March 10 as Kozo Tashima, vice president of the Olympic Committee and president of the Japan Football Association.

"Following their consultation with JFA president Tashima, the local health authorities have contacted all those they believe to be at risk of having contracted the virus from him," said a statement from Tokyo 2020 organising committee.

Tashima is undergoing treatment for the virus after returning from a UEFA board meeting in the Netherlands that included a stop in the US, according to reports in the Japanese media.

Online Editors