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The exclusion of overseas spectators from this summer’s Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics amid the pandemic, some observers say, is a result of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s hope to avoid losing further political ground ahead of a general election that must be called by this fall.

As Suga’s administration scrambles to contain the coronavirus, with the emergence of new variants becoming a fresh source of concern while uncertainty lingers over when COVID-19 vaccines will reach the entire population, he has been treading carefully not to invite more criticism over the government’s handling of the pandemic.

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