TOKYO (AP/CNN) - Japan’s Olympic minister says the contract to hold the Tokyo Games only specifies the event has to be held during 2020.
Seiko Hashimoto’s response to a question in the upper house of parliament implies the Olympics could be held later in the year and would not have to start on July 24.
Hashimoto told parliament “the IOC has the right to cancel the games only if they are not held during 2020.”
She says “this can be interpreted to mean the games can be postponed as long as they are held during the calendar year.”
IOC officials and Tokyo organizers have repeatedly said they expect the Olympics to open on schedule.
Talks between Tokyo’s organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee are being held this week to determine their next steps as the coronavirus continues to spread worldwide, according to the Associated Press.
The Japanese government has indicated it sees the next couple of weeks as crucial to containing the spread of the virus.
Several major sporting events in the country have already been impacted. The start of Japan’s baseball season saw teams playing in an empty Tokyo Dome while the Japan Sumo Association held a major tournament behind closed doors and without spectators due to the outbreak.
The torch relay in Japan is set to start on March 26 but it could see some changes and restrictions.