On Wednesday, the minster referred to the upcoming multi-sport event scheduled for Tokyo this summer as “cursed,” fueling cancelation fears which Japan’s government are desperately trying to quash as the coronavirus pandemic plays havoc with the sporting calendar.

READ MORE: ‘It’s just panic, pharmaceuticals will be the ones cashing in’: Russian Olympic champ skater Yagudin on coronavirus pandemic

“It’s a problem that’s happened every 40 years – it’s the cursed Olympics – and that’s a fact,” Aso said in a parliamentary committee.

The Japanese official stressed that extraordinary circumstances seem to affect the Olympic Games every 40 years, starting with the 1940, when the competition was canceled due to WWII.

Japan had earned the right to host the summer and winter Olympics in 1940, but both events were cancelled because of the war.

Forty years later, many sporting powerhouses including the US, China and Japan boycotted the 1980 Summer Games in Moscow to protest against the USSR’s military involvement in Afghanistan.

Now, the outbreak of the deadly Covid-19 virus is threatening to put the 2020 Olympics on the verge of cancellation.

Despite the pandemic – which has seen multiple sporting events, including UEFA EURO 2020 – being called off or postponed, the Japanese authorities and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have assured fans that the preparations for the Games are going ahead as planned.

This week the IOC issued a statement staying the organization “remains fully committed” to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, and urged athletes to “continue to prepare” for the Games.

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