Japanese PM says “never puts the Olympics first” amid opposition

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that he had never “put the Olympics first,” a poll on the same day showed that nearly 60% of people in Japan want to attend the Olympics less than three months before. start to begin.

Japan has extended the state of emergency in Tokyo until the end of May, fighting the jump in COVID-19 cases and raising further questions about whether the games will continue. Vaccination rates are lowest among rich nations. Read more

International Olympic officials, Tokyo designers and Suga himself insisted that the Games be conducted “in a safe and secure manner.” Foreign viewers were banned and designers released a complicated rulebook last month aimed at preventing coronavirus infections.

But in a poll conducted by the daily Yomiuri Shimbun on May 7-9, 59% wanted the games to be deleted, compared to 39% who said they should be kept. “Deferral” was not offered as an option.

According to another poll conducted by TBS News over the weekend, 65% wanted the games to be canceled or postponed again, 37% voted to completely eliminate the event, and 28% called for further delay. More than 300,000 people have signed a petition to cancel the games in roughly five days since its launch.

Asked at the parliamentary committee meeting whether the Games would continue even if COVID-19 infections flourished, Suga replied, “I have never put the Olympics first.”

“My priority was to protect the life and health of the Japanese population. We must first prevent the spread of the virus,” he added.

He reiterated that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has the final say on the fate of the Games and that it is up to the government to take steps to ensure that they are held safely. A number of test events have been successfully conducted with foreign athletes, most recently on Sunday.

Arrangements are underway for IOC leader Thomas Bach, who is expected to visit Japan in mid-May, to visit in June, and an end to the emergency is a precondition, the media reported.

Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto said last week that it would be “difficult” for Bach to visit amid the state of emergency.

An official from the western prefecture of Okayama said Monday that they are considering diverting the Olympic torch relay from public roads as it passes next week. Although other prefectures have taken similar steps, they have been subject to emergencies or other restrictions.

Olympic chief executive John Coates said on Saturday that while the Japanese mood at the Games was “worrying”, he could not foresee a scenario that sporting extravagance would not go ahead. Read more

But on Sunday, Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka said that although she waited all her life to take part in the Olympics, the risks of hosting the Tokyo Games need to be thoroughly discussed. Read more

The games will open on July 23 and run until August 8.

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