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Cancelling Olympics is an option, says senior Japanese politician
Tokyo Medical Association chair Haruo Ozaki warned that holding the Olympics will be "really difficult"amid the COVID-19 surge.
As Japan grapples with what the country calls the fourth wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, doubts are growing over the viability of holding the Olympics in Tokyo.
The Olympics had been postponed in 2020 on account of COVID-19. The games this year were to start on July 23.
On Thursday, a senior official of Japan's ruling Liberal Democratic Party warned that cancelling the Olympics could be an option.
Toshihiro Nikai, secretary general of the LDP, is referred to as the 'number 2' figure in the LDP and was perceived to be the king-maker who helped Yoshihide Suga become prime minister.
Nikai was quoted by Kyodo news agency as telling in a TV interview that if rising COVID-19 cases means "it is said to be impossible, we would have to give up [on holding the Olympics]".
On Wednesday, Japan reported over 4,000 new COVID-19 cases for the first time since late January. A quasi-state of emergency is in place in six prefectures, including Tokyo and Osaka. Tokyo on Wednesday reported 591 COVID-19 cases, while Osaka reported 1,130 cases. Wednesday, ironically, marked the milestone of '100 days to go' for the Olympics.
On Wednesday, Tokyo Medical Association chair Haruo Ozaki warned that holding the Olympics will be "really difficult"amid the COVID-19 surge.
"If infections spread further, in reality, it would be difficult to hold the Olympics in its regular form with athletes coming from various countries, even if the Games are held with no spectators," Ozaki was quoted as saying by Japanese newspaper Sports Hochi.
Earlier this week, a poll by Kyodo in Japan showed around 72 per cent people wanted the Olympics either cancelled or postponed altogether. The adverse sentiment has been attributed to the slow pace of vaccinations for COVID-19. As of April 9, only about 1.1 million people in Japan, less than 1 per cent of its population of 126 million, had received at least one dose of the Pfizer vaccine.