Tokyo organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto said Friday he can't guarantee the 2021 Summer Olympics will take place after being delayed from 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
"I don't think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not," Muto told reporters. "We're certainly not in a position to give you a clear answer."
The International Olympic Committee announced March 30 the Games would be rescheduled from this summer to July 23 through August 8, 2021.
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Muto explained there haven't been any additional discussions about further contingency plans if COVID-19 prevents the Olympics from taking place next year.
"Rather than think about alternatives plans, we should put in all of our effort," Muto told reporters. "Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can development treatments, medicines and vaccines."
He added: "We have made the decision to postpone the Games by one year. So this means that all we can do is work hard to prepare for the Games. We sincerely hope that come next year mankind will manage to overcome the coronavirus crisis."
The timeline for rescheduling would become difficult if 2021 is ruled out. The 2022 Winter Olympics are set to take place in Beijing in February of that year, and the next Summer Olympics are on the slate starting in July 2024 in Paris.
"With this announcement, I am confident that, working together with the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government, the Japanese Government and all our stakeholders, we can master this unprecedented challenge," IOC president Thomas Bach said March 30. "Humankind currently finds itself in a dark tunnel. These Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 can be a light at the end of this tunnel."
The World Health Organization has announced over 1.5 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide and have attributed more than 92,000 deaths to the disease as of Friday morning.
The 1940 and 1944 Summer Olympics were the most recent ones canceled, both because of World War II.