Olympics: Japan PM Suga vows to stage Games after declaring state of emergency in Tokyo

Japan is in a race against time to ensure that test events can restart on March 4 as rescheduled. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (XINHUA) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga promised on Thursday (Jan 7) that the Tokyo Olympic Games would be held this summer although the Tokyo area has entered a second state of emergency.

Suga, who became Prime Minister last September, told a press conference: "I am determined to hold a safe and secure Games."

He added that he is optimistic that enthusiasm among the Japanese public will grow once vaccinations begin, the Kyodo news agency reported.

The Japanese government is under mounting pressure as the Covid-19 situation has been worsening since last December.

The daily confirmed cases in Japan surpassed 7,000 for the first time, with 2,447 cases reported in Tokyo, setting a new high for the second day in a row, the state broadcaster NHK said.

Suga declared a state of emergency for the Tokyo metropolitan area including Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa prefectures on Thursday, authorising tougher measures to fight a resurgence in Covid-19 infections.

The state of emergency will be effective from Friday to Feb 7, with measures including urging people to stay at home and calling for restaurants and bars to stop serving alcohol by 7pm and close by 8 pm.

The number of spectators at live events, including sports events, will be limited to half of the available seats and no greater than 5,000.

That means that Japan is in a race against time to ensure that test events can restart on March 4 as rescheduled.

The first event will be the Fina artistic swimming Olympic qualification tournament from March 4 to 7 at the Tokyo Aquatics Centre.

Overseas athletes have been expected to attend some of the test events.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.