On Thursday, a month before the duels opened, the Imperial Palace director said Japan’s Emperor Naruhito was “extremely concerned” that the Olympic and Paralympic Games would eventually end with the spread of the coronavirus.
Thousands of athletes, leaders and journalists from abroad will arrive in Japan amid the outbreak of a pandemic, ignoring warnings from experts about the risks of contagion and that residents would prefer the Games to be canceled or postponed again.
Yasuhiko Nishimura, general manager of the imperial family, said at a press conference that the emperor had expressed concern.
“His Majesty the King is deeply concerned about the current situation of COVID-19 infection. Although there are voices of concern among the public, I think (the Emperor) is concerned about holding the Olympic and Paralympic Games…it could lead to more infections,” Nishimura said.
The games will open on July 23, and the Paralympic Games a month later.
Nishimura urged organizers to “take all possible measures to avoid infection at the Olympic and Paralympic Games, where the emperor will be an honorary patron.”
The emperor performs a symbolic function and does not exercise political power. But Naruhito, like his father, is incredibly popular and his words are highly respected.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has between his brows organizing the games, despite the concerns of residents and health experts.
To heighten concern, authorities in the western city of Izumisano, which hosts a training camp for the nine Ugandan team members, confirmed that a second member of the delegation had tested positive for the virus. The former, who was a coach according to the press, was revealed upon his arrival in Tokyo on Saturday. The rest of the team has been isolated in a hotel in Osaka.
Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato played down the impact of the Emperor’s concern, noting that the Imperial House Director, expressed his “personal opinions”.
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