Japan PM says he’s determined to hold Olympics

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, despite growing uncertainty as coronavirus cases rise at home, renewed his determination yesterday to host the postponed Tokyo Olympics this summer as a symbol of human victory over the pandemic.

Suga, speaking from Tokyo at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum, also called for a transparent investigation by the World Health Organization into the pandemic, saying it is key to learning lessons to prepare for future pandemics. He also promised to expand an initial USD130 million contribution to a fund to help developing countries acquire coronavirus vaccines.

“We are holding the Olympics and Paralympics this summer,” Suga said. “I am determined to achieve the games as a proof of human victory against the pandemic, a symbol of global solidarity and to give hope and courage around the world.”

Olympic officials have repeatedly said the games will be held in July as planned after a one-year postponement, though various scenarios including the holding of events without spectators are being considered.

Suga repeated his resolve to achieve a “safe and secure” Olympics and pledged to get infections under control in Japan as soon as possible.

At home, Suga has been criticised for delaying virus measures until daily cases surged to new highs in late December. He eventually declared a partial state of emergency in early January, issuing non-binding requests through February 7 for people to avoid crowds or eating out in groups and for restaurants to close early.

New cases in Tokyo have dipped but experts say they have not slowed enough, indicating that the emergency measures could be extended for several more weeks.