Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has vowed to forge ahead with preparations to hold the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
The development is coming in the face of growing public opposition as Japan battles a surge in coronavirus infections.
“We will press ahead with preparations, with determination of building watertight anti-infection measures and holding an event that can bring hope and courage to the world,” the Prime Minister said on Monday.
Suga said in a policy speech at the start of a regular Parliament on Monday as he faces criticism even within his own cabinet.
Taro Kono, his administrative and reform minister had reportedly told Reuters last week the Games may not go ahead as planned, becoming the first cabinet member to voice doubt over their staging.
Kono’s comments came after a recent media polls showed close to 80 percent of Japanese believe the Olympics, already postponed by a year because of the pandemic, should be delayed again or cancelled entirely.
Japan amid the recent surge in cases of Covid-19 closed its borders to non-resident foreigners and declare a state of emergency in Tokyo and major cities.
Monday’s comments echo a pledge by International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach that the Tokyo Olympics will be a “light at the end of the tunnel” in the global pandemic fight.
Organisers face no shortage of logistical headaches, with tough decisions looming over how to welcome spectators and athletes while safeguarding against the virus.
Reports has it that the IOC is expecting just 6,000 athletes at the opening ceremony, down from an initial figure of about 11,000 from 200 nations.
It also plans to scale back the ceremony because athletes will not be allowed to arrive at the Olympic Village more than five days before they compete and must depart within two days of completion of their events, the paper added.
“We believe it is necessary to reconsider the number of participants at the Opening and Closing Ceremonies and how they will enter the stadium,” the Tokyo 2020 organising committee said in an email.
This step would ensure the safety and security of the athletes and simplify operations, it said, while adding that a specific approach had not yet been decided in its talks with the IOC and other groups