The Olympic Games are typically a big celebration when thousands of people gather in one place from all over the globe for the purpose of competition. This is no ordinary Olympics, of course, and with this celebration also comes the fear that time will run out towards the Tokyo Summer Games.
The head of the Imperial Palace in Japan said Thursday that Emperor Naruhito is “extremely concerned” that the Olympics and Paralympics may accelerate the spread of the coronavirus. The news of the comments was reported by the Associated Press (h / t ESPN).
“His Majesty is extremely concerned about the current situation of COVID-19 infections,” Yasuhiko Nishimura, senior administrator of the Imperial House Agency, told a news conference Thursday morning. “While there are voices of concern among the public, I think (the emperor) is concerned that holding the Olympics and Paralympics … may lead to the spread of infections.”
Naruhito’s comments come as Japan experiences a rebound in coronavirus cases. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has lifted a third state of emergency in Tokyo that has been in place since late April despite public health officials who have expressed concern over the spread of the virus.
Concerns regarding COVID-19 protocols for visiting athletes and teams are also discussed as a the second member of Uganda’s Olympic team was positive for the virus on arrival in Japan.
Prime Minister Suga seems however determined to move forward with preparations for the Tokyo Games, which open on July 23rd.
In addition, Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato downplayed Emperor Naruhito’s concerns by simply calling them “his personal views.”
Naruhito was initially scheduled to announce the start of the Olympics at the opening ceremony before the games were postponed for a year due to the pandemic. Details about his presence at these games have not yet been finalized, palace officials said.