Japan PM says Olympics to go ahead despite 3rd wave of Covid-19

Tokyo, Jan 18 (efe-epa).- The prime minister of Japan said Monday that his country remains committed to holding the Olympic games as per schedule in July, despite the third and worst wave of Covid-19 in Japan, particularly affecting Tokyo.

Yoshihide Suga, during an address before the Diet or the parliament, said they were going to hold the Olympics as proof that humanity has overcome the novel coronavirus.

He added that the preparations will include every possible measure against Covid-19 as they sought to bring hope and courage to everyone through the event.

Suga’s statements are in line with the position held by the country so far and come at a time of renewed concern for the future of the Olympics, scheduled for Jul. 23.

On Sunday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato spoke of the preparations underway, with the selection of places, drawing up of timetables made and the adoption measures against Covid-19, according to statements from local news agency Kyodo.

Kato’s comments came in the wake of comments at national and international level that generated uncertainty regarding the Games.

Recently, several international media outlets cited an interview in a virtual forum of the Administrative and Regulatory Reform Minister Taro Kono, in which he said that the future of the Games could go “in any direction.”

It was the first comment by a member of the Suga Cabinet expressing uncertainty about the Games.

In his speech on Monday, the prime minister spoke of efforts to bring Covid-19 under control “as soon as possible” with measures being implemented under the current state of emergency in 11 provinces of the archipelago, while pledging to be “in the frontline” in the against the coronavirus.

The 72-year-old leader also underlined his government’s intention to begin vaccination against the disease as early as late February, after the completion of relevant processes for approval in the country.

Japan has experienced a disturbing increase in Covid-19 cases since November, leading the government to declare a second state of emergency since Jan. 8.

The emergency affects 11 of the country’s 47 prefectures, where more than half of its population is concentrated and which have accounted for 80 percent of infections.

Around 40 percent of the 328,294 total cases and 4,501 coronavirus-linked deaths in the country – excluding those of the Diamond Princess cruiser – have been recorded in the last one month.

In the capital city of Tokyo, the local authorities on Monday reported an additional 1,204 Covid-19 cases, the second highest toll in a day. EFE-EPA


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