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Tokyo Olympics will be safe, says governor

By AFP
June 14, 2020

TOKYO:Next year´sOlympics will be safe despite the coronavirus pandemic, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has said, pledging a "120-percent effort" to ensure the first-ever postponed Games can go ahead. Koike -- who announced Friday shewould stand for reelection nextmonth -- said the citywas committed to holding the event as a "symbol of human triumph" over the virus, but admitted itwould be downsized. "I will make a 120-percent effort," Koike, 67, said in an interview with AFP, but declined to say how confident she was that the sporting extravaganza would open as planned. Tokyo 2020 became the firstOlympics ever postponed in peacetime earlier this year as the coronavirus marched across the globe, upending lives and forcing the cancellation of sporting and cultural events. They are nowscheduled to begin on July 23, 2021 -- though they will still be known as the 2020 Games -- but medical experts have raised concerns that the delay will not be long enough to contain the virus and hold the event safely. Officials in Japan and from the International Olympic Committee have warned it will not be possible to postpone again. Koike said shewas continuing to "make all-out efforts in the battle against the virus to put on a Games that is full of hope". And she pledged an event "that is safe and secure for athletes and fans from abroad aswell as for residents of Tokyo and Japan". Japan has got through the first coronavirus wave better thanmany countries,with just over 900 deaths out of fewer than 18,000 confirmed infections. But it has faced persistent criticism for conducting relatively few tests that could understate the true number of cases. Officials point to the comparatively low death rate as evidence that a recently lifted state of emergency -- imposed in response to rising cases in April – and a public awareness campaign on social distancing have worked.

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