By Joe Apu
With less than 70 days to the official opening ceremony of the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, there is an increased concern over the spike of COVID-19 cases.
This followed Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s statement on Friday that a state of emergency was being extended to a broader area due to a rapid rise of coronavirus cases in those regions.
But he added that holding a “safe and secure” Olympic Games was possible if tight preventive measures were implemented that would keep ordinary Japanese from coming into contact with those arriving in connection with the Games.
The Olympics, postponed for a year due to the pandemic, are set to start on July 23.
Meanwhile critics of Japan’s plan to hold the Tokyo Olympics despite a fourth wave of coronavirus infections submitted a petition on Friday signed by 350,000 people over nine days calling for the Games to be cancelled.
“Stop Tokyo Olympics” campaign organiser Kenji Utsunomiya said the global festival of sport-already postponed from 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic -should take place only when Japan can welcome visitors and athletes whole-heartedly.
“We are not in that situation and therefore the Games should be cancelled,” he told a news conference. “Precious medical resources would need to be diverted to the Olympics if it’s held.”
The petition was submitted to the Olympic and Paralympic committee chiefs as well as Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.