Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said Wednesday the capital should host the postponed Summer Olympics "by all means" next year by taking thorough measures against the novel coronavirus pandemic.
"Athletes are going through much hardship due to the one-year delay given that their physical condition and motivation were targeted at this summer," Koike said in a talk delivered online from the metropolitan government. "We have to go forward with the games next summer by all means."
Koike’s comments came two days after the International Olympic Committee’s Vice President John Coates said that the games “will take place with or without COVID” as planned starting July 23 next year. She said Tokyo will “implement every possible measure” to hold a “safe and secure” Olympics and Paralympics, adding, “By taking one step at a time, I want the games to be memorable.”
Japan's Olympic minister Seiko Hashimoto also said Tuesday she believes the games should be held next year "at any cost" considering the preparations being made by athletes and others involved.
The Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics were originally scheduled to take place this summer, until the global health crisis forced a one-year delay in March.
The number of virus cases in Tokyo has been trending downward since mid-August after daily increases of 300 to 400 earlier.
"There have been increases and decreases in the number, but overall, we have seen a downward trend," Koike said. "But the rate of decline is very slow and we need to continue to be cautious of another resurgence as advised by our panel of medical experts."
The Tokyo Metropolitan Government on Monday reported 77 daily infections, the lowest number since July 8, but it confirmed 149 new cases Wednesday.
The capital's cumulative total now stands at 22,168 and remains the highest by far among Japan's 47 prefectures.