Japan presses on with Tokyo Olympics preparation despite surge in Covid cases

Government, however, played down talk of a promise to Bill Gates that the Games would go ahead

The Tokyo Olympics have already been delayed by a year
The Tokyo Olympics have already been delayed by a year

Japan's government is continuing with preparations to hold the Tokyo Olympics this summer as planned following a postponement because of the coronavirus pandemic, chief cabinet secretary Katsunobu Kato said on Wednesday.

Japan has repeatedly insisted it will hold the Games, originally scheduled for 2020, despite opinion polls showing a majority of respondents want them postponed again or cancelled.

"Right now we're working as one with everybody involved in organising the Games to host them successfully," Kato told a news conference.

The comments come as local media reported Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and US philanthropist Bill Gates had spoken about the Olympic Games on Tuesday in a call arranged by Suntory Holdings Ltd CEO Takeshi Niinami.

READ MORE: Will Tokyo Olympics go ahead this year?

Suga told Gates the Games were "very important" and would "definitely" go ahead, Kyodo news agency quoted Niinami as saying.

But Kato said Suga did not make that comment to Gates.

"I've checked and as far as I know, that expression was not used," Kato said.

Japan is grappling with a third wave of the coronavirus, with infections hovering at a record-high.

The Olympic Games were originally due to take place in 2020.

Reuters

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