Tokyo Olympics to go ahead in 'safe and secure' manner despite Covid-19 surge

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga insists the Tokyo Olympics will go ahead in a “safe and secure” manner, despite declaring a fresh state of emergency for the capital due to a record surge in Covid-19 infections.

Tokyo reported 2,447 new cases on Thursday. This is a jump of 850 cases – just over 50 per cent – from the day before. Tokyo was reporting just a few hundred new cases a few months ago.

The rapid spread of the virus in Japan is imperilling plans for the postponed Olympics, which are to open on July 23. The Paralympics begin on August 24.

Though, in responding to questions over whether the emergency could affect the Olympics, Suga said that the organisers and the International Olympic Committee would "continue to work" together to organise the event faultlessly and on schedule.

The Olympics were postponed nine months ago because of the pandemic. A poll last month by Japanese broadcaster NHK showed 63 per cent of 1200 Japanese surveyed think the Games should be postponed again – or cancelled.

Japan has attributed about 3500 deaths to Covid-19, a moderate success rates in controlling the virus for a country of 125 million.

The Switzerland-based International Olympic Committee and local organisers have said the Games will not be postponed again and will be cancelled if they cannot be held this time.

Japan has invested at least $25 billion (NZ$34 billion) in preparing the Olympics, and the IOC depends on selling broadcast rights for almost three-quarters of its income.