By Geoff Berkeley |
Nine Japanese Governors believe the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games should be either canceled or postponed depending on the state of the COVID-19 pandemic, as Japan considers extending emerging measures to combat a rise in infections.
Saitama, Shizouka and Yamanashi – which are all set to stage competitions at the Games – are among the nine prefectures where the Governors issued caution over the event taking place this year in a survey carried out by The Mainichi Shimbun.
Their responses come as the country reportedly considers extending the state of emergency in Tokyo due to a recent spike in COVID-19 cases in the Olympic and Paralympic host city.
All 47 Governors of the Japanese prefectures were sent the questionnaire by The Mainichi Shimbun, which asked them for their thoughts on the staging of the Games which is scheduled to start in less than 80 days’ time.
Among the four options to select in response to the first questions were the Games “should be held whatever the circumstances”, “should be cancelled or postponed depending on the circumstances”, “now is the time to decide to cancel or postpone”, or “I don’t know”.
According to The Mainichi Shimbun, Governors of Akita, Ibaraki, Saitama, Yamanashi, Nagano, Shizuoka, Tottori, Oita and Okinawa chose the second option.
They were also among 41 Governors that replied “yes” or “somewhat yes” when asked if their prefecture “stood to gain” if the Games went ahead.
Saitama is set to host basketball, football, golf and shooting at the Games, while Shizouka and Yamanash are due to stage the track and road cycling race, respectively.
“We’re providing the most venues after Tokyo,” Saitama Governor Motohiro Ono told The Mainichi Shimbun.
“While doing our best to prepare a safe and secure event, we need to keep an eye on the situation and calmly make a decision.”
Shizouka Governor Heita Kawakatsu added: “If infections continue spreading and it becomes clear for all to see that holding the Games is impossible, then we’ll have no choice but to cancel or postpone.”
Five Governors said they did not know to the first question while the other 33 selected the other options and felt it was down to the Japanese Government to make a call over the staging of the Games.
“The organisers and others should come to a conclusion,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told The Mainichi Shimbun.
“We are all in the fight to suppress the pandemic, and we will continue to prepare a safe and secure event.”
A state of emergency was declared in Tokyo on April 24 in a bid to curb a rise in COVID-19 infections.
Tougher restrictions are due to remain in place until at least May 11, with the Golden Week running from April 29 to May 5 but festivities curtailed.
Citing three sources, Reuters reports that officials are looking to extend the measures in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo.
It is also reported that the Government could make an announcement over an extension as early as Friday (May 7), with the Yomiuri newspaper claiming Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will meet senior Government ministers today to discuss the move.
According to reports, Osaka Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura wants the state of emergency to be extended until the end of the month.
Under the emergency measures, eating establishments are being asked to close by 8pm, while shops and cinemas have temporarily closed.
Tokyo reported a further 621 coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours, meaning the Japanese capital has dipped below 700 cases for the second successive day.
Yesterday saw Japan register 4,202 cases and 50 deaths, including 20 in Osaka.
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach previously said the state of emergency which is in place would not affect the Games.
But a survey last month suggested Tokyo 2020 organisers are still struggling to win public support with more than 70 per cent of Japanese citizens wanting the Games to be cancelled or delayed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to a poll conducted by Japanese news agency Kyodo News, 39.2 per cent of respondents want the Games to be cancelled and 32.8 per cent are in favour of another delay.
The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are due to run from July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics set to be held between August 24 and September 5.
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.