Japan PM Suga says “safe Tokyo Olympic Games” are possible despite pandemic

Tokyo, May 14 (EFE).- A “safe” Tokyo Olympic Games are manageable, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday, despite announcing a state of emergency due to Covid-19 in three new prefectures.

During a press conference, Suga declared the extension of the state of emergency — which already covered a number of areas, including Tokyo — to the prefectures of Hokkaido, Okayama and Hiroshima from Sunday 16 May.

Some of the country’s most populated regions are going through a fourth wave of Covid-19 infections that is reaching new heights and overwhelming the health care system.

Suga said it is Japan’s “responsibility” to take all the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of athletes and Japanese citizens while respecting the International Olympic Committee’s decision to go ahead with the competition in July.

“By taking thorough steps to protect the lives and health of the Japanese people, I believe it is possible to realize safe and secure games,” said Suga, roughly two months before the start of the event.

Suga said he is aware of the growing criticism directed towards the Olympics and of demands to cancel the event by health professionals.

His top priority, however, is slowing down the spread of the virus, he said.

The Japanese PM also pointed out that the organizers are coordinating to support the Olympic Games with enough medical workers without hindering the local healthcare system.

A few of Tokyo’s neighbouring prefectures have declined to set hospital rooms aside for athletes competing in the games.

Suga said the country has secured an additional 25 million Pfizer vaccines, and it will “ramp up” the vaccination of Japanese residents. Only 4.3 % of the population are fully inoculated.

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