Russian military intelligence carried out cyberattacks targeting the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics originally scheduled to be held this summer with the aim of disrupting the events, the British government said Monday.
Russia's GRU engaged in hostile cyber activity before the decision in March to postpone the games to next year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Cyber reconnaissance was carried out on organizers, sponsor firms and logistics services, the British government said. The details of the cyberattacks are not immediately known, nor is it clear whether the cyberattacks caused actual damage to the targeted entities.
The Japanese government declined to comment on the British government's announcement or offer details but said it is collecting information and will continue to share it with other countries.
"We would not be able to overlook an ill-intentioned cyberattack that could undermine the foundation of democracy," said Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato in Tokyo on Tuesday.
Russia has denied the allegations, with Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov saying, "Russia and Russian special services have never undertaken any hacking attacks, even less so against the Olympics," according to its state-run news agency RIA Novosti.
A senior Japanese government official indicated Tokyo would consider lodging a protest with Moscow if cyberattacks are confirmed to have been carried out by the country.
The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic organizing committee said in a comment they view cybersecurity "as an important aspect of hosting the games" and have been "taking a range of measures and making thorough preparations."
"Although we are not able to disclose details of the countermeasures due to the nature of the topic, we will continue to work closely with the relevant organizations and authorities to ensure that they are thoroughly implemented," organizers said.
The British government made the comments on the same day the U.S. Justice Department announced charges on six GRU officers, accusing them of worldwide cyberattacks, including targeting the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.
According to the British government, Russia's attacks on the Tokyo Games are "the latest in a campaign of Russian malicious cyber activity against the Olympic and Paralympic Games."
Calling the Russian cyberattacks "cynical and reckless," British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said, "We condemn them in the strongest possible terms."
Britain will continue to work with its allies "to call out and counter future malicious cyberattacks," he added.
The Tokyo Olympics are slated to be held from July 23 to Aug. 8 next summer, followed by the Paralympics from Aug. 24 to Sept. 5.