While Japanese athletes have garnered a record number of gold medals in the Tokyo Olympics to lift Japan into a celebratory mood amid the novel coronavirus pandemic, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is far from striking gold, with his political fate hanging in the balance.

The Summer Games, postponed by one year due to COVID-19, went on despite public concern over the spread of the virus. As the Games unfolded, the country saw an explosive spread of COVID-19, although Suga has repeatedly denied any connection between the Olympics and the surge.

The highly contagious delta variant has led to a rise in the number of patients with serious symptoms, forcing Japan to expand a state of emergency during the Games and threatening Suga’s plan to head into a general election by this fall in an atmosphere that would be favorable to his party and secure him a second term as prime minister.