The Group of Seven industrialized nations are finalizing a plan to express support for the upcoming Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics in a joint statement expected to be released after a summit Friday, Japanese government sources said.
The move comes as Japan seeks to use every occasion to counter skepticism about whether the postponed games can be held safely this summer amid the coronavirus pandemic. A recent Kyodo News poll showed more than 80% of the respondents said the games should be put off again or cancelled.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga asked British Prime Minister Boris Johnson during their phone talks earlier this week to garner support for the games and cooperation from other members of the G7 — Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the United Sates. Britain is this year's chair of the G7.
It remains uncertain how much the joint statement could help build momentum toward the Summer Games, scheduled to open on July 23.
Japan began vaccinations for the virus on Wednesday, well behind many other countries. Tokyo and some other prefectures remain under a state of emergency as the medical system continues to be strained by the number of COVID-19 patients.
Furthermore, public sentiment was dented recently after Yoshiro Mori announced his resignation as the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee chief last week over his sexist remarks. He was replaced by former Olympics minister Seiko Hashimoto on Thursday.
The Friday teleconference will be the first talks since last April when G7 leaders discussed the coronavirus response and the first international gathering for U.S. President Joe Biden since he became president on Jan. 20.
Aside from the Olympics, the leaders are expected to reaffirm joint efforts toward global economic recovery from the pandemic and call for fair distribution of vaccines worldwide including developing countries in the joint statement, according to the sources.
Accelerating efforts toward realizing a carbon-free society, ensuring financial market stability and creating global tax rules are also likely to be highlighted in the statement.
Britain plans to host a physical meeting of G7 leaders in June in Cornwall, southwest England.
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