Tokyo 2020 organizers remain cautious on Osaka torch relay
Tokyo Olympic organizers have not yet canceled the torch relay in Osaka in two weeks' time, despite a sharp rise in COVID-19 cases.
Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee, told a news conference that the organization is still "in discussion" with the Osaka prefecture government on the torch relay, which is scheduled to be held in Japan's second-biggest city on April 13.
"We are in discussion with the Osaka prefecture government as well as the executive committee there so we can come to a conclusion at our earliest convenience," Hashimoto said.
"Discussions are still ongoing. Things can change drastically before we take the next step. Although we would like to make conclusions as soon as possible, we need to be flexible so we can accommodate changing events."
Hashimoto added that she was very satisfied with the overall progress of the torch relay, which began on March 25.
"One full week has passed, and overall we have not faced any issues," she said.
Osaka governor Hirofumi Yoshimura, who on Thursday called for the cancelation of the relay through his prefecture, stressed on Friday, "We can't have the Olympic torch relay take place on the public roads of Osaka city."
He told reporters, "I'd like to discuss with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee about something we could do in place of the relay."
Osaka Prefecture confirmed 616 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, the highest level in over two months, and has become the most seriously-hit prefecture in Japan, surpassing Tokyo's daily new infections for the third day in a row, Kyodo news agency said.
Osaka mayor Ichiro Matsui also said that the torch relay should not be held in the western Japanese city.
The Japanese government on Thursday designated Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures for stronger measures against COVID-19 to contain the sharp resurgence in infections, putting the areas under a state of semi-emergency.