Japanese government insists on holding 2020 Olympics despite surge in virus cases

Officials bristle at London mayoral candidate’s suggestion to relocate Olympics to UK

Japanese officials insist 2020 Summer Olympics will proceed as scheduled. 

Japanese officials insist 2020 Summer Olympics will proceed as scheduled.  (AP photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Despite having confirmed 97 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) in the country, not including the passengers on the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship, Japanese officials said Friday (Feb. 21) that the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics will proceed as scheduled.

During a press conference, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga stressed that the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games will not be rescheduled and that the organizers have made the necessary precautions to guarantee the integrity of the event. In addition, Olympics Minister Seiko Hashimoto told the media that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has instructed the Japanese government not to worry about the epidemic and to carry out the games, reported Reuters.

As the number of COVID-19 cases rises in Japan, many sporting events have been canceled in the country, including a marathon in the city of Nagoya. The well-known Tokyo Marathon, which is scheduled for March 1, has been closed to public participants and will only feature elite athletes.

On Wednesday (Feb. 19), London mayoral candidate Shaun Bailey suggested that London can take over the 2020 Summer Olympics due to the ongoing outbreak in Asia. Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Friday called Bailey's proposal "inappropriate" and said that the organizers are working with public health officials to eliminate any chance of the coronavirus spreading during the Games, reported CNA.

Since the epidemic began escalating in Japan, many Japanese citizens have questioned the speed of officials' response to the virus. The government has also been criticized for letting passengers of the Diamond Princess who tested negative for COVID-19 take public transportation before entering quarantine.