Tokyo—Tokyo Olympics organizers insisted Friday that the coronavirus-postponed Games will still go ahead despite Japan declaring a state of emergency less than 200 days before the opening ceremony.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday announced the month-long measure covering the greater Tokyo area, taking effect from Friday, as the country battles a surge in infections.
Tokyo 2020 chiefs have already said that another postponement of the Games—set to begin on July 23—is out of the question.
And they insisted Friday that the emergency would not derail plans.
“This declaration of emergency offers an opportunity to get the Covid-19 situation under control and for Tokyo 2020 to plan for a safe and secure Games this summer, and we will proceed with the necessary preparations accordingly,” organisers said in a statement.
Suga said Thursday that Japan is committed to holding a “safe and secure” Olympics and that he believes public mood will change when the country begins vaccinations, currently scheduled for late next month.
International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound told the BBC he could not “be certain” the Games will go ahead, because “the ongoing elephant in the room would be the surges in the virus.”
Japan’s government declared a month-long coronavirus state of emergency in the greater Tokyo area on Thursday as the capital reported another record surge in daily infections.
Prime Minister Suga described a “great sense of crisis” as he announced the measure, which begins Friday and is less strict than the harsh lockdowns seen elsewhere or even the country’s first virus emergency last spring.
It primarily targets restaurants and bars, which will be asked to stop serving alcohol by 7 p.m. and close an hour later.
Suga made a special appeal to young people to abide by the requests, saying that more than half of recent new infections in greater Tokyo were among the under-30s.
“Please act... in order to save precious lives of your parents, grandfathers, grandmothers and friends,” he said.