UPDATE 1-Olympics sponsor Swatch says "convinced" Tokyo Games will take place - paper

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ZURICH, May 18 (Reuters) - Swatch Group Chief Executive Nick Hayek is sure the Olympic Games in Tokyo, sponsored by the group’s flagship Omega brand, will take place in August, he told Swiss newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft in an interview published on Tuesday.

“I’m convinced the Games will take place even if they can just be viewed on television,” Hayek said amid calls to cancel the event due to the pandemic.

“Even if many Japanese are currently sceptical with regards to the execution, their pride to have organised the Games successfully under these circumstances will be more important in the end,” he said.

Swatch Group’s Omega brand was first appointed official timekeeper of the Olympics in 1932.

Asked whether Swatch Group would be interesting in buying French luxury group Kering’s watch brands following recent market speculation, Hayek said “no”, but didn’t generally rule out acquisitions “if an opportunity arises”.

Hayek said the world’s biggest watchmaker was seeing “fantastic growth” in the United States, with April sales up 38% compared to the same month of pre-COVID year 2019 while China was also doing well.

He said Europe was still difficult due to lockdowns in France and Germany, but Britain had improved since shops reopened in mid-April.

For the group as a whole the second half of the year should be “significantly above 2019 levels”, Hayek said. (Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Michael Shields)