• Kyodo

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday that the COVID-19 situation will be considered when a five-party meeting involving organizers and his government decides whether to hold the Paralympics with or without spectators.

The central government, the Tokyo government, organizing committee, the International Olympic Committee and the International Paralympic Committee will meet after the Olympics end on Sunday to make the decision. The Paralympics is scheduled to begin Aug. 24, at a time when the city hosting it will still be under a state of emergency.

The Olympics has been held mostly without spectators amid the coronavirus pandemic.

Suga said at a news conference held in Hiroshima that the number of people going outside has not increased from the level before the Olympics, which started on July 23.

"I do not hold the view that the Tokyo Olympics is leading to the spread of the virus," he said, a day after daily new COVID-19 cases confirmed in Tokyo reached a record 5,042.

As the highly contagious delta variant of the coronavirus is spreading in the country, the government expanded the state of emergency areas earlier this week and decided to expand quasi-state of emergency areas as well.

Organizers said Friday another 29 people associated with the Games had tested positive for COVID-19, bringing the total since the start of July to 382.

No athletes or people staying in the athletes' village tested positive. Of the 29, 25 were residents of Japan and the remaining four from overseas, the organizing committee said.

Most of the newly confirmed cases involved workers contracted for the Games, a trend seen in recent days, they said.

"It may not be possible to bring risks to zero but the important thing is to respond quickly and appropriately to what happened," the organizing committee's spokesperson Masanori Takaya said. "Then we can have a safe and secure games. That is our consistent message."

With the country struggling to contain the virus, Suga reiterated his priority is the fight against the virus but he will decide what to do with the imminent ruling Liberal Democratic Party's presidential election and the general election by considering various factors "as a whole."

The LDP election effectively decides who will be the next prime minister.

Suga's term as the LDP leader expires on Sept. 30, while the term of House of Representatives members runs out on Oct. 21.

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