Boris Johnson today gave the Tokyo Olympics a show of support at a meeting with Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and backed efforts to ensure the Games go ahead safely.
The Tokyo 2020 Games, which were postponed last year due to Covid-19, is scheduled to start on 23 July.
“The prime minister expressed his support for the Tokyo Olympics, and welcomed Japanese efforts to ensure the Games can take place safely,” a Downing Street spokesperson said after the meeting.
The Japanese government and organisers of the Olympics have said that the Games will go ahead barring “Armageddon”, as one committee member put it.
At the meeting with Suga at the G7 summit in Carbis Bay, Johnson also agreed to work together on a range of issues including trade, technology, defence and climate change.
Will the Games definitely go ahead?
Johnson’s comments came a week after the president of Tokyo 2020 ruled out a cancellation or further postponement of the Games.
Public opinion polls in Japan have consistently shown that a majority want the event cancelled because of the Covid crisis.
Most of the Tokyo Metropolitan Assembly feel the same, according to media reports in Japan.
However, Olympics president Seiko Hashimoto said that she is “100 per cent” certain that the Games will happen.
Hashimoto today said that she would be “grateful” if G7 nations could support the Olympics going ahead as planned.
Speaking at a news conference, she said that a new vaccination centre for staff working at the Games had been opened in Tokyo.
Why the hesitancy?
With just over a month to go until the delayed Games begin, Japan is battling a rise in Covid cases, with large parts of the country under a state of emergency.
Shigeru Omi, Japan’s top medical adviser, has become more vocal about concerns he has about staging the Games.
He told a parliamentary committee last week that it would be “abnormal” to host the Olympics amid the current state of infections, and that organisers had a responsibility to scale down the event.
“We are now considering where we should give our advice,” he said. “If they want to hold (the Games), it is our job to tell them what the risks are.”