EU backs Japan holding ‘safe and secure’ Olympics
TOKYO–The EU and Japan said Thursday they backed the holding of a “safe and secure” Olympic Games despite calls for the event to be canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We support the holding of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner this summer as a symbol of global unity in defeating COVID-19,” the two sides said in a statement following a video summit between EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel and Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
Several parts of Japan are under a state of emergency because of a surge in infections, and the Japanese public is largely opposed to holding the Games this summer.
Medical groups have warned the massive event could introduce new variants to Japan and strain medical resources as the country battles a fourth virus wave.
Organizers have already barred overseas fans from the Tokyo Games, an unprecedented decision for the Olympics.
A decision on domestic spectators is expected in late June.
European Commission chief von der Leyen insisted the leaders said “we’re looking forward to the Olympic Games” during their video talks.
She pointed to the EU’s authorization for more than 100 million doses of vaccines to be exported to Japan as “a strong sign that we support any preparation for the Olympic Games, and the safety of these Games”.
Japan is the largest importer of vaccines from the EU — but authorities in the country face criticism over the slow rate of inoculations that has left it lagging behind other developed economies.