Tokyo, May 10 (EFE).- The Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee announced on Monday that the upcoming visit of International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, set to take place next week, has been postponed until further notice.
The main reason behind the postponement was the extension of the state of emergency in Tokyo and other prefectures – announced by Japanese government on Friday – the organizing committee said in a statement.
“We will continue to monitor the Covid-19 situation in Japan and other relevant factors and will rearrange his visit to Japan as soon as possible,” the organizers said.
The IOC president had been scheduled to visit the country on May 17-18, although the program had not been officially announced.
As part of the trip, Bach was expected to meet Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and attend the olympic torch relay in Hiroshima, according to local media reports.
The president of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, had already admitted on Friday that it would be “very difficult” for Bach to carry out a ground inspection of the Olympics preparations due to the current pandemic situation.
On the same day, the Japanese government announced that the state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures was being extended until May 31, while two other prefectures, Aichi and Fukuoka, were also included in the measure due to rising infections.
Bach’s Japan visit was set to be his first since November, and the postponement comes with just a little over two months to go for the Games’ opening ceremony – scheduled for July 23 – amid rising popular sentiment against holding the event among Japanese citizens.
Around 75 percent of the Japanese people support further postponing or altogether canceling the Olympics given the pandemic situation, while the rest back going ahead with the event as planned, according to recent polls.
An online petition calling for the cancellation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, launched on May 5 on Change.org, had by Monday collected over 318,000 signatures. EFE