TOKYO — Japan's leader insisted Monday that the country can host the Summer Olympics safely despite repeated questions from opposition lawmakers asking him to explain how that’s possible and consider canceling the event.
Concerns are rising about the ability of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's government to infections under control ahead of the Olympics, which start in just over two months. Suga decided Friday to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo until May 31 and expand the measure to six prefectures from the current four.
Japan logged about 7,000 new cases Saturday, a highest since mid-January.
Opposition lawmakers on Monday asked if Suga is determined to hold the Olympics even if coronavirus infections soar. The prime minister repeated that his role is to do his utmost to ensure the health and safety of all during the July 23-Aug. 8 games.
“I have never put the Olympics first,” Suga said. “We will do everything we can to provide safety for athletes and other participants, while protecting the lives and health of the Japanese people."
Suga added he arranged for Pfizer to donate its vaccine for athletes via the IOC, which would contribute to holding the games safely.
Public calls for a cancellation have been on the rise. An online petition calling for the Olympics to be canceled has gained more than 300,000 signatures in a week. A weekend survey by Japan’s largest newspaper showed about 60% of the respondents calling for a cancellation.