The Tokyo Olympics – due to begin on Friday – could be cancelled at the last minute because of rising coronavirus cases, the Games’ chief has admitted.
Toshiro Muto said discussions are continuing because it is impossible to foresee what may happen with COVID-19 infections.
With cases rising in the Japanese capital and a state of emergency declared, it has already been decided to hold the various competitions in empty venues in and around the city.
There have been 67 cases among those accredited to the Games since the start of the month, Reuters reported, and cases in Tokyo have been rising more generally.
“We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases,” Mr Muto, who heads the organising committee, said during a news conference.
“So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases.
“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises.”
Major sponsors will not be present at the opening ceremony, it has been decided.
The Japanese public has been concerned about a spike in cases being triggered by athletes and other attendees arriving from abroad.
Organising committee president, Seiko Hashimoto, said she wanted to “apologise from my heart for the accumulation of frustrations and concerns that the public has been feeling towards the Olympics”.
Meanwhile, a Ugandan athlete reported missing from his hotel last week after missing a coronavirus test has been found and is being interviewed by police.
Julius Ssekitoleko, a 20-year-old weightlifter, went missing from his pre-Olympic training camp in Osaka Prefecture on Friday and left behind a note saying he did not want to return to his home country.
Officials said he expressed his desire to stay in Japan and work.
He has now been discovered in Mie Prefecture.