Tokyo Olympics | International

Coronavirus | Japanese Prime Minister assures safe Olympics

People eating in restaurants in Tokyo's Shimbashi area on April 23 ahead of a declaration of a new coronavirus state of emergency to cover Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo regions.   | Photo Credit: AFP

Only three months before the postponed Olympics is set to open, Tokyo and Japan’s second largest metropolitan area of Osaka has been placed under emergency orders aimed at stemming surging cases of the coronavirus.

The measures, which take place during Japan's “golden week” holiday period, are meant to limit travel and keep people out of public places. They are to end on May 11, just ahead of a widely reported visit to Hiroshima by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

Criticism

Bach said this week that the visit, reported for May 17-18, is still in the “planning phase.” But Bach's presence was immediately criticised by opposition lawmakers who say the Olympics is being prioritised ahead of public safety.

“Japan should decide its own public health policies. There is no reason we should be told by Bach what to do,” said Yuichiro Tamaki, the head of the Democratic Party for the People.

Bach said the duration of the state of emergency had nothing to do with his planned visit to the city, where he would greet the Olympic torch relay.

“This (state of emergency) is absolutely in line with the overall policy of the government,” Bach said. “But it is not related to the Olympic Games. It is related to the golden week.”

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday promised to ensure a safe Tokyo Olympics this summer, after announcing a new state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures.

The measures will go into effect from April 25 to May 11, raising questions about Japan's ability to host the Olympics amid a resurgent coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo Olympic organisers said on Friday the leg of the torch relay in Okinawa’s Miyakojima island would not be held on public roads because the region is currently subject to priority measures for containing the spread of the coronavirus.

“Tokyo 2020 will continue to work closely with Okinawa prefecture and the local task forces in all other prefectures due to host Olympic Torch Relay segments in order to ensure that these events will be safe and secure for all local communities” the organising committee said in a statement.

Sections of the torch relay were also moved off public roads in Osaka and the city of Matsuyama as those areas battle a resurgence in infections.


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Printable version | Jun 14, 2021 4:33:57 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/coronavirus-tokyo-under-emergency-orders-with-olympics-three-months-away/article34393242.ece

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