(ATR) Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike expresses her optimism about next summer’s Games noting her recent meeting with IOC president Thomas Bach, while saying that in a best case scenario, there could even be venues full of spectators.
Yuriko Koike speaking to Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan on Tuesday. (FCCJ YouTube)
“The best case scenario of course would be something where athletes would be able to come here to Japan in safety and with ease of mind and the Olympics, as in previous years, could be held with full spectators present as well, but at the same time with stringent and thorough Covid-19 related measures,” Koike said on Tuesday, addressing reporters at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan in Tokyo.
“When we are talking about measures, the situation of Covid-19 is different from country to country at the moment, therefore we need to be constantly monitoring this situation to being able to adopt and these measures can fit what the current situation is.”
Koike said she believes Japan’s hosting of the Games can be an inspiring event for the world.
“The Tokyo 2020 Games can symbolize the resiliency of humanity as we work together to defeat this invisible enemy Covid-19,” Koike said.
“By taking all possible measures against Covid-19, we are fully prepared to ensure the athletes who play the leading role, the volunteers, children and all of those looking forward to the Games,” noting they will be “successful Games".
Koike and Thomas Bach greet safely in Tokyo on November 16. (IOC)
Koike met with Bach last week during the IOC president’s three-day visit along with Tokyo coordination commission chair John Coates for the IOC-IPC Project Review. The Tokyo governor said she was highly encouraged by the IOC’s vow to execute distribution of potential vaccines.
“Mr. Bach’s recent visit here to Japan was to discuss what format the Olympics will take place in, to ensure that the Games can be done and hosted in a safe way as well,” Koike said.
“When Mr. Bach was here, his remarks that the IOC was prepared to provide a vaccine to all parties was particularly noteworthy and personally I am very much sensitive to the news related to the vaccine,” she said.
Asked about countermeasures on the table, Koike referred to the Olympic Village, noting that while typically athletes have received their meals buffet-style, safer individual options are being explored in Tokyo.
“We are looking at these individual measures which will need to be tackled to hold the Games,” she said.
Koike addressed media for nearly 40 minutes at the news conference entitled “Tokyo and Beyond – Initiatives for a Safe and Secure Tokyo".
Although Japan has largely avoided the huge numbers of Covid-19 infections seen in other countries, daily cases in Tokyo rose to records above 500 last week.
Koike said serious cases have been kept at a relatively low number thanks to health care workers and the country’s commitment to wearing masks, which is part of Japanese culture.
The Tokyo governor was also asked if the Covid-19 positive numbers escalate significantly, could the Games be cancelled.
“In regards to the judgment or decision on that issue of course, the IOC is the organizer of the Games, as well as the various federations of each country and sports,” Koike said. “On top of that is the Japanese National Government and Tokyo Municipal Government.
“This would be an issue that will be discussed among all of these parties. There are the coordination meetings taking place to discuss all these issues.”
Koike’s closing question was whether she would consider running for prime minister of Japan in the future.
“At the moment, being responsible for Tokyo and its population of 14 million people is what I see as my utmost priority at the moment,” said the 68-year-old politician.
“Looking also, as I mentioned, about the safe and successful holding of the Olympics and Paralympics for example, therefore I am doing my utmost at the moment realizing that this as my greatest priority at the moment.”
Koike is scheduled to meet with Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga later on Tuesday to discuss a domestic travel promotion campaign introduced by the government earlier this year to try to stimulate local economies hit by the near-complete absence of foreign tourism amid the pandemic.
Written by Brian Pinelli
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