Exclusive: Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga Shuts Down Speculation of Tokyo Olympics Delay

The Tokyo Olympics will go ahead as scheduled, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, dismissing speculation his government was considering delaying or canceling the games.

With fewer than 100 days remaining before the scheduled start of the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, several Japanese senior officials issued seemingly conflicting statements on whether cancellation or delays were still possible. But speaking with Newsweek in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Japanese Prime Minister Suga ended the debate and said the games will take place from July 23 through Sunday, August 8, one year after the games were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"It's already decided that the Games will take place," Suga told Newsweek. "So based upon [that] decision, preparations are underway."

Suga said he and the International Olympic Committee, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government came to that full-stop decision very recently. Pressed by Newsweek on any possibility there could still be a delay or cancellation of the Olympics, Suga reiterated that was no longer an option on the table.

"In order to secure full implementation of necessary countermeasures and based upon the decision, preparations are underway, including infection prevention measures," said Suga. "We truly hope to realize a safe and secure games to deliver hope and encouragement from Japan to the people around the world."

Suga's remarks come just days after a senior official in Japan's ruling party, Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the Liberal Democratic Party, said he was open to canceling the Olympics due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus.

"What would be the point of an Olympics that spread the infection?" Nikai asked reporters last week.

Japanese public health officials have stepped up virus prevention measures across six regions this month after a record amount of cases emerged in urban areas including Tokyo and Osaka.

Japanese Prime Minister Attends Virtual Quad Meeting
Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks during the virtual Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (Quad) meeting at his official residence in Tokyo on March 12, 2021. KIYOSHI OTA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images