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  • The Canadian Press

    Officials say Tokyo Olympic cancellation, no fans still an option

    TOKYO — Two officials in Japan's ruling LDP party said Thursday that changes could be coming to the Tokyo Olympics. One suggested they still could be cancelled, and the other said even if they proceed, it might be without any fans. Toshihiro Nikai, the No. 2 and secretary general of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party, mentioned the cancellation only a day after Tokyo reached the 100-days-to-go mark on Wednesday. He made his comments in a show recorded by Japan's TBS TV. "If it seems impossible to go on with the games, they must be definitely cancelled," Nikai said. "If there is a surge in infections because of the Olympics, there will be no meaning to having the Olympics." Asked if a cancellation was still an option, Nikai said: "Of course." But he also added: "It is important for Japan to have a successful Olympics. It is a big opportunity. I want to make it a success. We will have many issues to resolve and prepare, and it is important to take care of them one by one." Prime Minister Toshihide Suga said in a statement there was "no change to the government position to do everything to achieve safe and secure Olympics." The Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement that it remains confident that the Games will be staged safely and successfully, "and (we) look forward to participating at Tokyo 2020. "Not only because of what we know is being planned by the IOC and Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee to safeguard health and safety but because of our own decisions being made. Our actions will continue to be guided by our Chief Medical Officer and Canadian public health officials." Canada led the way a year ago when both the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic Committees announced they wouldn't send teams to Tokyo unless the Games were postponed. Two days later, the IOC announced the Games would be pushed back a year. Tokyo organizers said they, the IOC and the International Paralympic Committee "are fully focused on hosting the games this summer." They said Suga "has repeatedly expressed the government's commitment" to holding the Olympics. COVID-19 cases have been rising across Japan. On Thursday, Japan's second-largest metropolitan area of Osaka recorded 1,208 new cases. It was the third straight day that new cases surpassed 1,000. Tokyo hit 729, its highest total in more than two months. Japan has attributed 9,500 death to COVID-19, good by world standards but poor by results in Asia. Tokyo and Osaka have been under an alert status since earlier this month, but officials are concerned there is little sense of urgency. Experts on a Tokyo metropolitan government taskforce warned that the new variant could replace the conventional virus and trigger explosive infections by early May. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike urged residents to take maximum protection and asked non-Tokyo residents not to visit the area. Taro Kono, the government minister in charge of Japan's vaccine rollout, said even if the Olympics go on, there may be no fans of any kind in the venues. He said it's likely that the Olympics will have to be held in empty venues, particularly as cases surge across the country. That means only television cameras and still cameras will be around to record the action, joined by some reporters, judges and match officials. The delayed Tokyo Olympics are to open in just over three months on July 23, and the Paralympics follow on Aug. 24. Fans from abroad have already been banned. Now even Japanese spectators could be kept away. "I think the question is how to do the Olympics in a way that is possible in this situation," Kono said Thursday on a television talk show. "That may mean there will probably be no spectators." Kono did not suggest the Olympics would not go ahead, but he said they could be held under only "certain conditions." “The way these Olympics will be held will be very different from past ones,” he said. Tokyo organizers have said they expect to announce a decision this month on the number of fans allowed into each venue. Organizers had expected to receive about US$800 million from ticket sales, their third-largest source of income. Any shortfall will have to be made up by Japanese government entities, which are already footing most of the bills. The official cost for the Olympics is $15.4 billion, but several government audits have suggested it might be twice that much, and all but $6.7 billion is public money. ___ AP Sports Writer Stephen Wade contributed to this report. With files from The Canadian Press ___ AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Mari Yamaguchi And Yuri Kageyama, The Associated Press

  • Canadian team sits sixth after opening day of World Team Trophy in Japan
    The Canadian Press

    Canadian team sits sixth after opening day of World Team Trophy in Japan

    OSAKA, Japan — Canada's figure skating team is at the bottom of the standings after the first day of the six-team ISU World Team Trophy. The Canadians, who are competing in their first live event in a season ravaged by COVID-19, scored 23 points on the first of three competition days on Thursday. They're two points behind Italy, and four back of fourth-place France. Russia leads the way with 49 points. The United States has 47 points for second, while Japan is third with 42. Canada sent different skaters to Osaka than the team that competed at last month's world championships in Stockholm. This is the first live event this season for these Canadian skaters after both Skate Canada International and the Canadian championships were cancelled. Skate Canada Challenge was held virtually. The team event sees skaters in all four disciplines — men's and women's singles, pairs and ice dance — complete both their short and long programs. The placings of each skater are tallied to determine the winner. Roman Sadovsky of Vaughan, Ont., last year's national champion, scored 89.61 in the men's short program to finish sixth, while two-time national champion Nam Nguyen of Ajax, Ont., scored 66.89 and was 11th and last. Three-time world champion Nathan Chen of the U.S. led the men's short program with 109.65, followed by Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu (107.12) and American Jason Brown (94.86). Carolane Soucisse of Montreal and Shane Firus of North Vancouver, B.C., were sixth in the rhythm dance (65.06). World championships Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of Russia lead with 86.66. Alison Schumacher of Tecumseh, Ont., is ninth in the women's singles (59.19), while two-time national champion Gabrielle Daleman is 10th (57.22). Russians hold down the top two spots. Anna Shcherbakova has the lead ahead of Elizveta Tuktamysheva. Canada won gold in the team event at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, and silver in 2014 in Sochi, Russia. Their last medal at the World Team Trophy was a silver in 2013. The pairs short program, free dance, and men's free program are Friday. This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2021. The Canadian Press

  • Japanese Official Says Canceling Tokyo Summer Olympics Is Still Possible amid Rise in COVID Cases

    Japanese Official Says Canceling Tokyo Summer Olympics Is Still Possible amid Rise in COVID Cases

    "If there is a surge in infections because of the Olympics, there will be no meaning to having the Olympics," the official said