Japan’s Suga insists delayed Tokyo Olympics will go forward in 2021 | Coronavirus pandemic Information

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga began 2021 with a promise that the late Tokyo Olympics would take place in July, even as Japan grapples with a surge in coronavirus cases and the rising cost of an event that is becoming increasingly unpopular with the public .

“The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held this summer,” Suga said in a written statement for the New Year, describing the event as a symbol of the unity of the world. “We will constantly prepare to have a safe tournament.”

Japan and the International Olympic Committee decided in March last year to postpone the Games for a year as the coronavirus pandemic has pushed much of the world into the background.

The games, in which around 11,000 athletes from all over the world take part, will take place in two weeks from July 23rd. This is followed by the Paralympics. The event’s budget has increased by approximately $ 2.4 billion due to the delay, organizers announced in December, bringing the total to over $ 15 billion.

The year of # Tokyo2020 is just around the corner! #UnitedByEmotion 🥰 @ Olympics & @Paralympics 2⃣0⃣2⃣1⃣🔜🇯🇵 pic.twitter.com/OEEgp63eq0

– # Tokyo2020 (@ Tokyo2020) January 1, 2021

IOC President Thomas Bach, who visited Japan in November, affirmed the IOC’s commitment to the Games in a video at the beginning of the new year, noting that Tokyo was the “best prepared” Olympic city of all time.

“These Olympics will be the light at the end of the tunnel,” said Bach.

“They will be a celebration of solidarity, the unity of humanity in all our diversity and resilience.”

In Japan, however, public opinion also appears to be turning against the event.

A poll published in December by the public broadcaster NHK found that only 27 percent of respondents want the games, compared with 40 percent in October. The percentage who prefer to cancel rose to 32 percent from 23 percent in October. The rest wanted another postponement, but the IOC ruled that out.

Seven months to go, Japan is grappling with a surge in COVID-19 cases, which hit record highs in Tokyo and across the country on December 31.

IOC chief Thomas Bach encountered small protests during his visit to Japan in November. Public support for the Olympics appears to be in decline [File: Issei Kato/Reuters]Suga, who took office in September after Shinzo Abe stepped down, has been criticized for his government’s response to the wave of infections after continuing to support a domestic tourism program launched by his predecessor.

“I have prayed for the end of the pandemic”

The government urged the Japanese to curtail their New Year celebrations in order to contain the spread of the virus.

The New Year is one of the biggest holidays in Japan, with many businesses, including restaurants, often closing for a week so families can spend time together.

People also pray in local temples. About three million people usually come to the popular Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo.

Temple and shrine visits are part of the New Year celebrations in Japan, and around three million people usually visit Meiji Shrine in Tokyo in the first few days of the New Year [Kimimasa Mayama/EPA]Visitors observe social distancing and pray for their health, property and a bright future on their first visit to Meiji Shrine in Tokyo for the first time in the New Year [Kimimasa Mayama/EPA]It was quieter this year when masked visitors lined up behind duct tape on the floor to keep them socially separated.

“Last year was full of depressing news about the coronavirus, so I prayed that people all over the world would find more happiness,” said a woman in her forties named Nami after praying at the shrine.

“I have prayed for the pandemic to end soon,” said Megumi, a sports coach in her forties. She hopes to “get through the year enjoying the new opportunities to connect with friends.”

In his New Year’s declaration, Suga also pledged to “protect people’s lives” and work on “countermeasures against viruses and economic recovery.”

Japan has stayed away from strict lockdowns, instead encouraging people to wear masks, wash their hands, and avoid crowded and narrow spaces.

While there are growing concerns about the current spike in some cases, Japan’s outbreak appears limited when compared to other parts of the world. The country of nearly 126.5 million people has reported 3,341 deaths since recording its first case in January, according to Johns Hopkins University.

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