Tokyo Olympics: Toshiro Muto says no guarantee Games will happen in 2021

The Tokyo Olympics may not be able to go ahead in 2021 as planned due to the escalating nature of coronavirus in Japan, according to Organising Committee chief executive Toshiro Muto.

Last month, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Japanese government agreed to postpone the Games, due to start in July this year, to 2021 because of the impact of coronavirus, which has infected more than 1.6 million people worldwide and killed 100,000 - including two New Zealanders. 

Since the announcement, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe issued a state of emergency to combat the virus, putting the country under strict restrictions after it initially seemed it had avoided the spread.

Even though the new Games are 16 months away, Muto has warned that 2021 could still be too ambitious.

"I don't think anyone would be able to say if it is going to be possible to get it under control by next July or not," he said, speaking through an interpreter. 

"We're certainly not in a position to give you a clear answer.

"We have made the decision to postpone the games by one year. So this means that all we can do is work hard to prepare for the Games. 

"We sincerely hope that come next year mankind will manage to overcome the coronavirus crisis."

Muto added that at this stage, there were no alternative plans to the announced dates in 2021.

"Rather than think about alternative plans, we should put in all of our effort," he said. 

"Mankind should bring together all of its technology and wisdom to work hard so they can develop treatments, medicines and vaccines."