IOC Disputes Report That Games Will Happen Even If Japan Says No

The International Olympic Committee pushed back at characterizations of comments made by long-standing senior official Dick Pound in a Japanese magazine, in which he was reported to say that the IOC would proceed with the Tokyo Olympics even in the face of opposition from Japan’s prime minister.

According to the magazine Shukan Bunshun, Pound said the Olympics would go forward even if Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called for them to be canceled. He was responding to a question asking what action would be taken if Suga made such a call, according to a Japanese-language report released yesterday.

“We understand that Mr. Pound was asked a different question during the interview. Therefore, the way his answer is portrayed in the report is wrong,” the IOC said in a statement, without clarifying what Pound was supposed to have been asked. “All Games-related decisions have always been and will always be taken in full agreement of all parties.”

Pound has been an outspoken member of the IOC, frequently making headlines with his remarks. In a separate interview with the Evening Standard that was also reported Wednesday, he said that only an “Armageddon” would stop the event. His remarks have previously given insight into the thinking inside the IOC, with Pound among the first to say the Games would be postponed last year, ahead of the official decision.

His interview comes after a week in which speculation over the Games has intensified, after Japan’s influential left-leaning Asahi newspaper, itself a sponsor of the event, called for the Games to be canceled given the state of the pandemic. Earlier this week, the U.S. said Americans should avoid traveling to Japan. While the current wave of Covid cases in Japan has begun to subside, the country is set to extend its state of emergency over the pandemic. Reports have said it could now run until the middle of June, just a month before the Games begin.

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