Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Monday he never put the Summer Games above the health of the population and insisted the International Olympic Committee has the final say over whether the Tokyo event proceeds.
His comments coincided with the release of a poll from the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper that found 60% of the population wants the games to be canceled.
“I’ve never put the Olympics first,” Mr. Suga said. “My priority has been to protect the lives and health of the Japanese population. We must first prevent the spread of the virus.”
Yet Mr. Suga and the IOC have for months said they’re committed to holding the event from July 23 to Aug. 8, outlining a series of safety measures to deal with COVID-19. They barred foreign spectators and plan to test athletes regularly, among other measures.
Japan is under a state of emergency through May to combat transmission as its vaccination efforts lag far behind those of other developed nations.
For now, the IOC is pushing ahead with the games that were delayed a year.
Organizers say another delay would cause an Olympic pile-up. The 2022 Winter Games in Beijing are around the corner, and Paris will host the Summer Games in 2024.