Officials from the Japanese government, local Tokyo government and the Olympics organising committee met for the first time last week to develop steps to counter the coronavirus at the Games.

A woman wearing a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), walks past the Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, Japan March 13, 2020.
A woman wearing a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), walks past the Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, Japan March 13, 2020. (Reuters)

The rearranged Tokyo Games must be held "at any cost" in 2021, Japan's Olympic Minister Seiko Hashimoto.

Speaking at a news conference on Tuesday, Hashimoto said the Games should be held for the benefit of the athletes, regardless of the challenges posed by the novel coronavirus pandemic.

The Japanese government and the International Olympic Committee took the unprecedented decision in March to postpone the Games, originally scheduled to begin in July, until 2021 because of the virus.

"Everyone involved with the Games is working together to prepare, and the athletes are also making considerable efforts towards next year," Hashimoto said during a news conference.

"I think we have to hold the Games at any cost," she added.

"I want to concentrate all our efforts on measures against the coronavirus."

READ MORE: Postponed Olympics to be cancelled if pandemic not over by next year

Officials from the Japanese government, local Tokyo government and the Olympics organising committee met for the first time last week to develop steps to counter the coronavirus at the Games.

In an interview with Reuters in July, Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said organisers were preparing to host the Games next year even if the global coronavirus pandemic hasn't eased substantially.

Organisers are looking at over 200 proposals on how best to deal with the virus, including easing travel restrictions for foreign athletes, anti-virus measures at the Athletes' Village and how to handle spectators.

Postponed for the first time ever

In March 2020, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pushed the Games back to 2021 due to the coronavirus. Athletes who had already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before they were postponed will keep their places when the showpiece takes place in 2021.

The 2020 Tokyo Games were scheduled for July 24-August 9, but after telephone discussions between Thomas Bach, IOC President, and former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a historic joint decision was taken for the first postponement of an Olympics in peacetime. The Games were only cancelled because of war, but never postponed.

READ MORE: Athletes qualified for Tokyo 2020 will keep 2021 spots

Source: Reuters