Tatsuya Maruyama, governor of Shimane Prefecture, Japan, said on the 17th that if the COVID-19 pandemic in the capital circle does not improve, Shimane Prefecture is considering withdrawing from the Olympic torch relay scheduled to be held in the prefecture in May.
Affected by the pandemic, the Tokyo Olympic Games has been postponed from July 23 to August 8 this year.
The Olympic torch relay in Japan is scheduled to start in Fukushima Prefecture on March 25, and will spread to 47 prefectures across the country in 121 days.
The Shimane Prefecture Olympic torch relay was originally scheduled to be held from May 15 to 16, with a total of 170 torchbearers.
Maruyama indicated on the 17th at the Shimane Prefecture Flame Relay Executive Committee that he intended to cancel the torch relay in the county.
“It’s hard to continue to assist in hosting the Olympic Games and the torch relay,” he told reporters after the meeting.
Referring to the reason, he said that he was dissatisfied with the ineffective pandemic prevention of the central and Tokyo Metropolitan Government.
Shimane Prefecture is located in southwest Japan, with a population of about 666,000 and a cumulative number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Maruyama said: “We are not asking for the suspension of the torch relay now.
We will make a decision depending on the pandemic situation and whether the pandemic prevention response of the central and Tokyo governments improves.”
Maruyama opposes holding the Tokyo Olympic Games without improving the government’s pandemic prevention response.
On the 10th, he criticized the capital’s poor pandemic prevention and control ability, questioning whether the Tokyo government is qualified to host the Olympic Games.
Kyodo News Agency reported that Shimane Prefecture’s consideration of canceling the Olympic torch relay reflects the strong concern of the Japanese people about the Olympic Games this summer.
A Kyodo News Agency poll earlier in February showed that more than 80% of the respondents believed that the Tokyo Olympic Games should be postponed or cancelled again.
The Japan Broadcasting Association (NHK) reported from Shimane Prefecture Sports Revitalization Department as a source that the Shimane Prefecture Government has signed an agreement with the Tokyo Olympic Organizing Committee on the torch relay, which stipulates that the torch relay can be cancelled in the event of major natural disasters or difficult to predict accidents.
Katsunobu Kato, Chief Cabinet Secretary of Japan, said on the 17th that Maruyama’s latest statement does not mean that the Shimane Prefecture Flame Relay Executive Committee has concluded that it is not suitable for comments at present.