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Japanese PM slammed by lawmakers for prioritising Olympics amid pandemic

AP
Tokyo, JapanUpdated: May 11, 2021, 03:34 PM IST

File photo of Japanese PM Yoshihide Suga Photograph:(Reuters)

Story highlights

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.