Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said that the Olympic Games, already postponed to 2021 because of the coronavirus pandemic, would be "scrapped" if they cannot take place then, according to an interview published Tuesday.
The head of Japan's medical association said it will be "difficult" to hold the Olympics without coronavirus vaccines, and he hopes effective vaccines or drugs to treat the coronavirus will be developed quickly.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government last month postponed the Games until July 2021 due to the outbreak.
As the number of confirmed cases of the virus around the world continues to rise and with experts suggesting that a vaccine is still a long way off, questions are being asked about whether a further delay might be needed.
"No. In that case, the Olympics will be scrapped," Mori said in the interview with Japanese daily Nikkan Sports when asked if the Games could be postponed until 2022.
"We have delayed the Olympics until next summer after we will have won the battle. The Olympics would be much more valuable than any Olympics in the past if we could go ahead with it after winning this battle. We have to believe this. Otherwise, our hard work and efforts will not be rewarded."
Japan is under a month-long state of emergency amid the rapid spread of the coronavirus across the country, where hospitals are overburdened and causing fear of the collapse of the medical system.
Earlier Tuesday, Japan Medical Association president Yoshitake Yokokura told a video media conference: "In my view, it would be difficult to hold the Olympics unless effective vaccines are developed. I hope vaccines and drugs will be developed as soon as possible.''
Yokokura said the Games are possible only if the coronavirus is under control not only in Japan but also globally. He did not say whether he opposes the Olympics without vaccines.
Meanwhile, Mori said the Olympics and Paralympics might share opening and closing ceremonies instead of holding their usual separate events as a way to cut costs, though that idea is complicated by the fact that tickets have already been sold for all four ceremonies.
"It's a big hurdle," he said. "Due to the impact of coronavirus, the situation next year will be completely different. Given that the situation has dramatically changed, we have to review key areas, including the ceremonies."
There have been more than 3 million documented coronavirus cases globally, with more than 210,000 deaths, and the World Health Organization (WHO) warned Monday that the pandemic is "far from over."
Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.