Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (Photo/Uichiro Kasai)At a news conference in Tokyo, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced lifting a coronavirus state of emergency for Tokyo and four other remaining areas, ending COVID-19 pandemic restrictions throughout Japan ... a critical first step toward the 2021 Olympics being held as planned starting on July 23, 2021.
Abe went on say that the swift development of vaccines and effective treatments for COVID-19 are priorities towards achieving the Tokyo Olympics next year. However, Abe says recovery from the coronavirus pandemic cannot be limited only in Japan ... because the Games involves athletes and spectators from all over the world.
The Japanese prime minister reiterates that his government hopes to hold the Tokyo Games "in a complete form" with spectators as a proof of human victory against the coronavirus.
All that said, medical experts say that developing safe-but-effective vaccines for participating athletes and fans in the stands in the next 14 months -- before the 2021 Olympics get underway -- will be a difficult task.
These issues again came to the forefront last week, as the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto spoke Thursday about the need to take "countermeasures" to combat the coronavirus at next year's postponed games.
Muto was responding to a BBC interview in which International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said a 2021 Tokyo Olympics without fans "is not what we want."
"Regarding president Bach's remarks," said Muto, speaking through an interpreter in an on-line news conference, "there are other people in Japan as well that (believe the Olympics) need to take place behind closed doors. However, our point of view is that we have more than one year until the games take place. And we think it's too early at this point in time to have that discussion."
"Obviously, we are aware that it will be inevitable to have some sort of countermeasures for COVID-19 when we hold the Tokyo Olympic Games and Paralympic Games next year," Muto said. "This is all we can say at this point in time. For detailed questions about specific countermeasures for us to take, it may not be the right timing to answer."