Kate Demolder
Kate Demolder

15.37 1 Jan 2021


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Japan's prime minister says the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics will go ahead as planned this summer.

Postponed for one year to the summer of 2021 due to COVID-19, the Tokyo Games are scheduled to begin this July.

Organisers insist that the games will go ahead no matter what happens with the virus between now and then.

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Japanese authorities have also shared that they intend to relax travel restrictions to allow "large-scale" visitor numbers attend the Tokyo Olympics.

There's no indication yet as to what "large-scale" means in terms of exact numbers. Nearly one million tickets for Tokyo 2020 events had been sold overseas, with 4.5million in Japan itself.

The delayed Olympics, the then prime minister Shinzo Abe said, would be an opportunity to pay tribute to the human spirit in overcoming the world’s biggest public health crisis for a century.

That's despite concerns over an increase in cases of the new variant of COVID-19.

A new strain of the coronavirus has been discovered in Japan prompting a ban on non-resident arrivals.

Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, warned members of the public on Wednesday that the capital could face an “explosion” of cases and urged people to “put life before fun” and stay home over the new year holidays.

Some 24 hours later, Koike told the Kyodo news agency that Tokyo had 1,300 new infections, beating the previous one-day high of 949 from last Saturday.

According to the Japan Times, some urban areas across Japan have already implemented measures, such as requesting bars and restaurants to close early.

The government has also moved forward with a decision to apply to change the law so that it could fine restaurants that fail to heed requests to close early.

Main image by Marijan Murat/dpa


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