Thu, 24 Jun 2021

BEIJING, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will continue to "work with full engagement" towards a safe Olympics, an IOC spokesperson told Xinhua.

Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga said on Monday that he had never put Olympics first when asked if the Tokyo Olympics will go forward if the COVID-19 situation worsens, and said the IOC has the final say.

"My priority has been to protect the lives and health of the Japanese population. We must first prevent the spread of the virus," said Suga, whose government is under fierce criticism over their handling of the pandemic.

When asked about Suga's comments, the IOC spokesperson responded: "The Olympic community from all over the world is thinking of the Japanese people who are affected by the pandemic and who are facing this crisis with solidarity and resilience. Together with our Japanese partners and friends, we continue to work with full engagement to ensure the safe organization of the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

The spokesperson also highlighted the vaccination of delegations, which has been in place to ensure safe games.

"In addition to the already strict science- and experience-based COVID-19 countermeasures, the IOC has initiated an already very successful vaccination program for the national delegations coming to Japan. This will ensure that the vast majority of the residents of the Olympic Village will arrive in Japan vaccinated," the spokesperson continued.

"It is happening in solidarity with the Japanese people, and to protect the Japanese people as well as the participants of the Olympic and Paralympic Games."

Thus far, Japan has only managed to vaccinate 240,000 of those aged 65 or older with the second of their two jabs, in stark contrast to the pace of other advanced countries.

The Japanese central government has reportedly begun to speed up the national rollout of COVID-19 vaccinations on Monday. In the following two weeks, the government said it will deliver enough vaccines to local municipalities to inoculate nine million seniors, with all 36 million of this demographic having the requisite amount of vaccine doses delivered by the end of June.

The host city of Tokyo is currently under an extended state of emergency until the end of May, and the Tokyo organizers announced on Monday that IOC president Thomas Bach's scheduled visit to Japan on May 17 and 18 has been postponed. A recent opinion poll by the Yomiuri Shimbun daily showed nearly 60% of people in Japan want the Games cancelled.

Tokyo 2020, postponed by one year due to the pandemic will take place from July 23 to August 8.

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