Tokyo Governor: Olympics Must Go Ahead Next Year

Tokyo Olympics
Mladen Antonov/AFP via Getty Iimages

Tokyo’s governor said on Monday the Summer Olympics – postponed due to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic – must go forward next year to symbolize world unity in overcoming the health crisis, Japan Today reported on Tuesday.

Originally scheduled to start this month in Tokyo, the 2020 Olympic Games were postponed for the first time in their history. The Games are now tentatively scheduled for July 23, 2021.

Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike “has pledged to win public support for the Games [to be held next summer] although a media survey showed a majority think they should be canceled or postponed again [due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic],” Reuters reported.

Japan has so far avoided a severe coronavirus outbreak during the pandemic, but a recent spike in cases in Tokyo has led many people to worry that an apparent second wave of infections may soon crest in the capital. Tokyo’s coronavirus cases account for over one-third of Japan’s total cases, currently 22,880.

“I want to host [the Olympic Games] as a symbol of the world coming together to overcome this tough situation and of strengthened bonds among humankind,” Koike told Reuters on Monday.

Tokyo reelected Koike to a second term as governor in a landslide last week. Reuters notes that political observers have tipped her as a likely future candidate for Japan’s office of prime minister.

Japan’s coronavirus adviser, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, commented on the country’s second wave of infections on Wednesday and how this might thwart plans to hold the postponed Olympic Games next summer.

“I think the virus is mutating all the time … it may be a much stronger virus that triggers a second wave,” Kurokawa told Reuters. “The Olympics may be postponed again, but I can’t predict.”

Offering a possible explanation for the current surge in cases, Kurokawa said:

“I think it’s small incidents happening in Tokyo … new cases are because people are not abiding by recommendations. But if there are some mutations, that is a completely different story. That could happen anywhere in the world.”

Governor Koike raised Tokyo’s coronavirus alert to its highest level on Wednesday. She cited Japanese health authorities who cautioned her earlier on Wednesday that the number of infections in the capital has surged recently, “exceeding peaks.”

“My understanding is that we’re in a rather severe situation now,” Koike said at a press conference. According to Japan’s health authorities, the number of “infections among young people and asymptomatic cases are rising in Tokyo.”

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