Japan reassures Olympics can be safe as prolonged state of emergency considered

TOKYO, May 27 (Reuters) – Japan on Thursday pledged to stay in close contact with Olympic Games stakeholders at home and abroad to ensure a safe and secure Games even as it prepares for extend the state of emergency to much of the country, including the host city Tokyo.

Concerns remain over the safety of the 2020 Olympics, postponed for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with opinion polls showing a majority of Japanese are opposed to holding the Games this mid-summer. struggles to control a fourth wave of the coronavirus and lazy vaccine rollout.

The government is currently preparing to extend the state of emergency to much of the country, which was originally scheduled to be lifted on May 31, possibly until June, officials said – just weeks before the Games open. July 23.

Earlier this week, the United States advised against visiting Japan, but Olympics organizers said it would not affect the Games. On Wednesday, the White House said the Japanese government had assured it it would stay in close contact with concerns about the Olympics.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato said Japan will continue to do everything possible to control the virus regardless of the Olympics and will be in close contact with affected parties at home and abroad about measures taken. in relation to the Games.

“Careful anti-infection measures are essential to be able to organize a safe and secure event,” he told a press conference. “We will maintain close and periodic contact with all concerned, both inside and outside the country, to explain what we are doing in this regard.”

Just over 5% of Japan has been vaccinated and has recorded an estimated 719,000 infections and 12,394 deaths.

Tokyo Olympics official partner Asahi Shimbun on Wednesday published an op-ed calling for the Games to be canceled, but a former vice president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said later in the day that the sporting extravagance is expected and would take place in July.

A sign of the uncertainty of the situation, however, Australia’s major sports leagues and Olympic hopefuls had to scramble to make contingency plans after authorities announced a seven-day lockdown in southern Victoria for contain a COVID-19 outbreak in Melbourne. (Reporting by Elaine Lies; Editing by Lincoln Feast.)

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