The Tokyo 2020 president has insisted that the Olympics go ahead “100 percent” despite public calls to cancel them.
Japan is currently in the midst of a fourth coronavirus wave, with 10 parts of the country, including the capital, under a state of emergency until later this month.
Public opinion polls have consistently shown that citizens are in favor of a cancellation, and people have even taken to the streets to express their disapproval and anger at current plans to let the Games go ahead.
Tokyo 2020 President Sheiko Hashimoto has urged Olympics to go on ‘100 percent”
The country is in the midst of a fourth wave of coronavirus, just 50 days before the Games begin
But committee chair Seiko Hashimoto insists that the Games – which can attract up to 90,000 athletes, coaches, media and officials from abroad – will take place behind closed doors at worst.
“I believe the possibility of these Games going ahead is 100 percent that we will do this” she told BBC Sport just 50 days before the start of the opening ceremony.
“The question now is how we can get an even safer Games.
“The Japanese people feel very insecure and at the same time probably feel frustrated that we are talking about the Olympics and I think that gives rise to more votes against holding the Games in Tokyo.
Ten areas are under state of emergency and polls call for cancellation
People have even taken to the streets to show their disapproval and anger at plans
‘The biggest challenge will be how to control and manage the flow of people. Should there be an outbreak during the Games that amounts to a crisis or an emergency, I think we should be prepared to hold these Games without spectators.’
Due to the measures taken against the corona virus, international fans will not be allowed to attend the Olympics or Paralympic Games this summer, a decision Hashimoto described as “extremely painful”.
But it came amid a new wave of infections in Japan in early April, with some areas in a state of emergency and subject to restrictions until June 20.
The country only started vaccinating its population in February, which is later than most other developed countries.
And as a result, only about three percent of people are estimated to have received both doses of the vaccine.
Japan has managed to avoid the large-scale infections of many other countries
The coronavirus vaccine rollout in Japan has also been slower than in most developed countries
While Japan has managed to avoid the large-scale infections of many other countries, the latest outbreak has seen a worrying rise in severe Covid-19 cases.
On Tuesday – the last day of recorded statistics – the number of new confirmed cases in the UK per million people was 48.73, compared to 26.25 in Japan.
More than 746,000 cases have been recorded and more than 13,000 deaths have been reported in Japan, but Asahi newspaper claims that Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is showing his determination to go ahead with the Games as he plans to bring it forward after the Paralympic Games ends. to hold elections.
Olympic leaders remain undecided on whether to allow Japanese fans to attend the Games, with areas such as Ota City hosting Olympic training sessions or events, fearing they will spread the virus and put further strain on medical resources.
However, Hashimoto’s comments come just a day after the country’s chief medical adviser warned against holding the Games next month, stressing that it is “not normal” in the current Covid climate.
Shigeru Omi said: “It is not normal to hold the event in the current pandemic situation.
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‘If you’re going to do it in such a situation, it’s the organizer’s job to minimize the size of the event and strengthen the management system as much as possible.
“If we are going to hold the Olympics, it makes sense that the organizing committee will do everything in its power to minimize contamination, not just leave it to the national government, local governments and the people.
‘Only when it is clear why people are detained, are citizens motivated to overcome this special situation. It is very important that those involved have a sound vision and motivation.
“When your favorite player wins a gold medal, you get to raise your voice and express your joy, and then everyone can say, ‘Let’s have a drink’.
“It is our expert opinion that it is difficult for the general public to make the effort to maximize the chances of spreading the infection as much as possible.”