Yuriko Koike said the Games could mean a “victory” over the pandemic, adding that work still needed to improve treatment and testing, but acknowledged that organizers had struggled with a series of uncertainties.
“The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are an important event that everyone has been waiting for,” Koike told CNN’s Will Ripley.
“The delay was costly and, more than anything, we don’t know what the situation with the coronavirus will be in July next year. We have a few uncertainties here.
“It costs a lot to start with. It takes the understanding of Tokyo residents. We must not spend too much. We must make the Games safe for athletes and spectators.”
‘Clear goal to win’
There were 17,039 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 917 deaths in Japan, according to the latest report from Johns Hopkins University (JHU).
“We need to determine the specifics of the virus, develop a cure, improve testing options,” Koike said.
“But we can’t afford to fight the coronavirus for 10 or 20 years. The global community must have a clear goal to defeat the coronavirus and compete for solutions by creating a secure society and sharing successful examples (fighting the virus).
“I want the success of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (a sign) of humanity’s victory over the coronavirus.”
Despite the high population density, Tokyo tolerated the virus well, recording 5,347 confirmed cases and 307 deaths, according to the JHU.
“It’s all thanks to the cooperation of Tokyo residents,” Koike said.
“Wearing masks has become a common habit for the Japanese since the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918. The sense of hygiene of the Japanese people was excellent and it helped suppress the number of deaths compared to Western countries.”