Suntory CEO not certain Japan can hold Olympics

"I'm not sure whether we'll be able to hold the Tokyo Olympics or not," Suntory CEO Takeshi Niinami, an economic adviser to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, told the Reuters Next virtual forum on Wednesday.

"But it's a great message to the world, as overcoming the battle against COVID. Definitely, we should make every effort."

Japan initially managed to avoid the kind of explosion in coronavirus cases seen in countries such as the United States, but infections have risen steadily and the government has declared a second state of emergency for areas including Tokyo.

Government officials insist they are preparing for the Olympics this summer as planned, following last year's postponement because of the coronavirus pandemic.

But polls have shown the public's hope for the Games have faded.

Niinami said that a decision will likely be made by the end of March, as the third wave of infections will likely continue through the end of February or early March.

Video Transcript

TAKESHI NIINAMI: I'm not sure whether we'll be able to hold the Tokyo Olympics or not, but it's a great message to the world as overcoming the battle against COVID. So there should be a second thought as for Olympics if we can do it or not, but definitely, we should make every effort. But the reason that we should win the battle against COVID.

- When do you think the world will know if the games are going ahead. What's the date by which you think Japan needs to decide?

TAKESHI NIINAMI: End of March.

Third wave will be still going on up until the end of February or early March because of the severe COVID in our country.