Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike remains confident of being able to safely hold the Olympics next year despite growing concerns about Japan’s recent resurgence of Covid-19 infections, the AP reports.
Japan is experiencing an uptick of infections this month, with a nationwide daily total exceeding 2,000 as the government tries to balance suppression measures with business activity without further hurting the pandemic-hit economy.
“As the host city, I’m determined to achieve the games whatever it takes,” Koike told a news conference in Tokyo on Tuesday.
The governor said widespread use of masks by the Japanese is one of the most effective safety measures and has spared Japan from the high rate of infections hitting the US and Europe. Many Japanese use them as a “moral duty” in trying to cooperate in disease prevention efforts, she said.
Tokyo’s daily cases have spiked in recent weeks and Koike has met with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga to discuss how to deal with the recent resurgence of infections. Suga has suffered a wave of criticisms that his government was too slow to take steps despite experts repeatedly calling for government action.
Japan, during its seven-week state of emergency in April and May, had non-mandatory stay-home and business closure requests but still did better than many other countries.
International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach is not only confident that the Tokyo Games will be happening in the summer of 2021, but also that people will be allowed to watch the games live in the venues they take place in.
“I think we can become more and more confident that we will have a reasonable number of spectators in the Olympic venues,” he said.
This newfound confidence comes after news of several vaccines approaching readiness. Also Tokyo hosted an international gymnastics competition at the weekend which served as a test case for how to approach Olympic sports in the era of Covid.
The IOC says that participants and athletes will be encouraged to get vaccinated in order to protect the Japanese public.
When asked by AP if a contingency for cancelling the Olympics again in 2021 would be discussed, Bach said “no”.