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Japan virus expert 'pessimistic' Olympics can be held next year

A Japanese expert who has criticised the country's response to the Covid-19 outbreak warned yesterday he is "pessimistic" that the delayed Olympics can be held even in 2021.

"To be honest with you, I don't think the Olympics is likely to be held next year," said Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious diseases at Kobe University.

Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed last month to delay this year's Tokyo Games until July next year, after pressure from athletes and sports federations.

But, in recent days, as the coronavirus pandemic continues to spread worldwide, there have been doubts over whether a year's delay will be enough.

Iwata told journalists at a press briefing: "Japan might be able to control this disease by next summer. I wish we could, but I don't think that would happen everywhere on Earth, so in this regard I'm very pessimistic about holding the Olympics Games next summer."

He said he could see the Games being held next year only if they were significantly altered, "such as no audience, or very limited participation".

Last week, a Tokyo 2020 spokesman had said there will be "no Plan B". - AFP