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Japanese PM pledges ‘safe and secure’ Olympics will go ahead

The rescheduled Olympics and Paralympics will go ahead this summer despite a surge in coronavirus cases in Japan, the country's prime minister has declared.

Yoshihide Suga issued his statement after the governor of Tokyo warned cases in the capital could “explode” due to the new variant of the virus having been detected.

Suga said: "The Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games will be held this summer." He also vowed that the events would be "safe and secure" and serve as a "symbol of global solidarity".

The cost of the Games has increased by $3.72 billion because of measures needed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, which could make them the most expensive summer edition in history.

Meanwhile, a poll by national broadcaster NHK showed that a majority of the Japanese public opposed holding the Games in 2021, favouring a further delay or outright cancellation.

Tokyo 2020 is expected to update athletes and spectators next week on preparations for the Games as it marks 200 days until the start of the Olympics on July 23. The organisers said they hoped that all athletes, and potentially spectators too, could be vaccinated against COVID-19 by July.

The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, also underlined the organisation's "determination" to stage Tokyo 2020 as planned and claimed the Olympic movement had "strengthened the role of sport in society" during the crisis.

"Tokyo is still the best-prepared Olympic city ever," Bach said in a video address to mark the start of 2021. "We can only thank our Japanese partners and friends for their great commitment and their determination.

"These Olympic Games will be the light at the end of the tunnel. They will be a celebration of solidarity, of unity of humankind in all our diversity, and of resilience."

The Telegraph, London

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