Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Friday expressed his strong resolve to go ahead with the Tokyo Olympics next month despite concerns over the coronavirus pandemic, urging the Group of Seven countries to send athletes to the games, a government official said.

“We will make preparations toward a safe and secure Tokyo Games, putting in place all steps to prevent the spread of the virus,” Suga was quoted as saying during the G7 summit, adding, “I would like you to send strong teams, with expectations that the world’s top-level athletes will show their best performances.”

The G7 leaders responded with “warm smiles on their faces,” which signaled their support for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the official explained.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday gave the Olympics a show of public support at a meeting with Suga and welcomed efforts to ensure the games can take place safely.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, which were postponed last year due to the global spread of the coronavirus, are scheduled to start on July 23.

At a meeting with Suga on the sidelines of the summit in the British seaside resort of Carbis Bay, Johnson agreed to work together on a range of issues from trade and technology to defense and climate.

“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 Olympic organizers have said the games will go ahead — barring “Armageddon,” as one International Olympic Committee (IOC) member put it.

In its ongoing struggle to turn public opinion in favor of the games, the Japanese government has been hoping the G7 will offer backing for the Olympics in its joint statement to be released when the three-day summit ends on Sunday.

Tokyo and some other areas of the country have been placed under a coronavirus state of emergency through June 20, while media polls have shown that a large majority of Japanese people are concerned about further spread of the virus and oppose going ahead with the Olympics, following the unprecedented postponement of the games last year.

The G7 groups Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States, plus the European Union.

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