Japan allowed to postpone Olympics to end of 2020, minister says

Posted at 10:01 AM, Mar 03, 2020

TOKYO (AP) — Japan's Olympic minister says the contract to hold the Tokyo Games only specifies the event has to be held during 2020.

Seiko Hashimoto's response to a question in the upper house of parliament implies the Olympics could be held later in the year and would not have to start on July 24.

Hashimoto told parliament on Tuesday that “the IOC has the right to cancel the games only if they are not held during 2020.”

“This can be interpreted to mean the games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year,” said Hashimoto

Hashimoto's comments come amid growing concern that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) could be forced to cancel the games due to the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19, the upper-respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus.

More than 3,100 have died from the disease worldwide, with a majority in mainland China. At least deaths have been reported in Japan, according to a tally by Johns Hopkins.

IOC officials and Tokyo organizers have repeatedly said they expect the Olympics to open on schedule.