File photo of Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga Photograph:( Reuters )
Suga pushed back at the criticism during a question and answer session in the Japanese parliament, saying his role is to do his utmost to ensure the health and safety of all during the July 23-August 8 games
Japanese opposition lawmakers slammed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday for what they called his 'Olympics first' attitude in prioritising the event even as COVID-19 cases continue to rise on the country.
Suga pushed back at the criticism during a question and answer session in the Japanese parliament, saying his role is to do his utmost to ensure the health and safety of all during the July 23-August 8 games.
Concerns are rising about the ability of Suga's government to get infections under control ahead of the Olympics, which start in just over two months.
Suga decided Friday to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo until May 31 and expand the measure to six prefectures from the current four.
Japan logged about 7,000 new cases on Saturday, a highest since mid-January.
Suga added he arranged for Pfizer to donate its vaccine for athletes via the IOC, which would contribute to holding the games safely.
Public calls for a cancellation have been on the rise.
An online petition calling for the Olympics to be cancelled has gained more than 300,000 signatures in a week while a weekend survey by Japan's largest newspaper showed about 60% of the respondents calling for a cancellation.
IOC President Thomas Bach cancelled his planned trip to Japan next week because of surging cases of COVID-19 in the country, the Tokyo Olympic organising committee said on Monday in a statement.
Bach was to visit Hiroshima next Monday and meet the torch relay and then probably travel to Tokyo.