Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga insists the country will hold the Tokyo Olympics this summer in a "safe and secure" manner, making the promise soon after declaring a fresh state of emergency for the capital due to a record surge in COVID-19 infections.
Responding to questions over whether the emergency could affect the Olympics, Suga said all efforts would be made to overcome the coronavirus and the Games would be held after taking necessary measures.
Speaking at a press conference to announce fresh restrictions for Tokyo and three nearby prefectures, Suga said that the organisers and the International Olympic Committee would "continue to work" together to organise the Olympics faultlessly and on schedule
The emergency, set to last until February 7, includes measures such as encouraging work from home or teleworking, reducing the size of public events, cutting down opening hours of bars and restaurants and urging citizens to not leave their houses after 8 pm.
Suga also expressed confidence that the launch of vaccination campaigns in various countries and Japan, where immunisation is expected to begin by the end of February, would change the atmosphere in the country regarding the Games.
However, he insisted that right now the top priority was controlling infections.
Popular support for organising the Olympics dropped significantly in Japan during the last few months of 2020 mainly due to the continued spread of the new coronavirus, according to various surveys released on local media outlets.
A poll carried out by public broadcaster NHK showed that 32 per cent of the participants were in favour of cancelling the Games definitively, while 31 per cent supported postponing it again and 27 per cent backed holding it as per schedule.
After being postponed by a year due to the pandemic, the Olympic Games, which will retain the Tokyo 2020 name, will be held from July 23 to August 8, 2021, while the Paralympic Games will take place between August 24 and September 5.
Australian Associated Press