Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has assured that next year’s Olympics will be safe despite the COVID-19 pandemic, as she pledges a “120-percent effort” to make sure that the first-ever postponed Games holds.
Yuriko Koike who declared Friday she would run for re-election next month said the city was committed to making the Olympics hold as a “symbol of human triumph” over the coronavirus, although she admitted it would be downsized.
“I will make a 120-percent effort,” Koike, 67, said in an interview with AFP, but declined to say how confident she was that the sporting extravaganza would open as planned.
Tokyo Olympics 2020 has become the first Olympics to be postponed in peacetime earlier this year after the coronavirus spread across the globe, killing many people and forcing the cancellation of sporting and cultural events including businesses.
The Olympics has now been scheduled to start on July 23, 2021, but will still be known and addressed as the 2020 Games. However, medical professionals have raised concerns that the delay will not be long enough to contain the virus and hold the event safely.
Experts in Japan and from the International Olympic Committee have warned that it will not be possible to postpone again should it fail to hold on the set date in 2021, but Koike vowed she was continuing to “make all-out efforts in the battle against the virus to put on a Games that is full of hope”.
While stating her unshaken assurance that the all-games event will hold and will be safe she promised Olympics, “that is safe and secure for athletes and fans from abroad as well as for residents of Tokyo and Japan“.
Japan went through the first coronavirus crisis better than many countries in the world, with only a few numbers above 900 deaths out of about 18,000 confirmed infected cases. Although it has been greatly criticized for conducting relatively few tests that could understate the real number of cases.
Experts relate to the low death rate as evidence that a recently lifted state of emergency that was imposed in response to rising coronavirus cases in early April, and a public awareness campaign on social distancing seems to have worked effectively.
“Tokyo residents know that the summer Games next year in 2021 is not possible unless the impact of coronavirus calms down. That was among the things that pushed them to make these efforts,” Koike said.
Meanwhile, Japanese and Olympic authorities have warned that it’s too early to tell how the coronavirus pandemic would have evolved before the new date. Yuriko Koike said for now, “simplification and cost reduction” are the major planks of discussions, along with potential safety measures.
“What kind of (virus) tests and how? How much social distancing is necessary? These will depend on future discussions,” she said.
Preparing for a second wave of the coronavirus
A current survey revealed that two-thirds of Tokyo 2020’s corporate sponsors are an inch close to declining their pledge as a result of the effect of the coronavirus. But Yuriko Koike is insisting that the event would still be an “excellent opportunity” for sponsors and said she will not relent in asking for their “continued support”.