• Kyodo, REUTERS

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In his first comments on the Tokyo Olympics since taking office, U.S. President Joe Biden said Sunday that the decision on whether the games should go ahead this summer must be "based on science."

Speaking on the Westwood One radio show during a halftime interview at Super Bowl LV, Biden told host Jim Gray that Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was "working very hard to be in a position to be able to safely open the games and have the games, and I think that has to be based on science.

"Whether or not it is safe for that to occur. My prayer is that it will be," he added.

"Imagine, imagine all those Olympians who work for four years, four years for one shot and all of a sudden that opportunity gets lost," Biden said, adding that they "are the people that I feel such pain for, but we have to do it based on the science."

The U.S. president added: "We are a science-driven administration, I think the rest of the world's there too, I hope we can play, I hope it's possible, but it remains to be seen."

A top Tokyo Olympics official said in an interview last month that the fate of the games, planned for this July, could come down to support from the United States and its new president.

The Wall Street Journal quoted Tokyo Organizing Committee member Haruyuki Takahashi as saying in an interview that that the Olympics’ future could depend on the support of Biden.

“Mr. Biden is dealing with a tough situation with the coronavirus,” Takahashi told the WSJ in the article published Jan. 27. “But if he makes a positive statement about the Olympics going ahead, we’d gain strong momentum.”

“It’s up to the U.S. I hate to say it, but (International Olympic Committee President) Thomas Bach and the IOC are not the ones who are able to make the decision about the games,” he added. “They don’t have that level of leadership.”

The United States brings the largest contingent of athletes to any Olympics and also provides the IOC with its most lucrative television deal.

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