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Japan's PM thanks people for helping Tokyo host safe Olympics during pandemic

The 17-day Summer Olympics were played mostly without spectators: Mike Egerton/PA Wire
Mari Yamaguchi, Associated Press

Japan’s prime minister has thanked people for helping the country safely hold the Tokyo Olympics despite the difficulties of the coronavirus pandemic.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga noted the Games were delayed by a year and held under tight restrictions, but “I believe we were able to fulfil our responsibility as the host nation”.

He thanked the people for their understanding and co-operation.

The 17-day Summer Olympics were played mostly without spectators.

Athletes stayed in an isolation bubble, quickly donned masks off their field of play and had to leave Japan soon after their competitions ended.

But the Games were a testament to perseverance, and as Mr Suga noted in praising Japanese athletes for the nation’s record 58 medals: “Some won medals and others didn’t, but all their performances were moving.”

The prime minister spoke about the Olympics at a ceremony in Nagasaki on Monday that marked the 76th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of the Japanese city.

Mr Suga has been criticised as forcing the Games on a Japanese public that did not want them to be held during the pandemic.

Japan has counted one million infections and more than 15,700 deaths from Covid-19, faring better than many countries, but the Delta variant is causing many recent cases and accelerating the spread of the virus.

Tokyo’s new daily cases have more than doubled during the Olympics, with 2,884 recorded on Monday for a prefectural total of 252,169 cases.

With Tokyo hospitals filling up with serious cases, nearly 18,000 people with mild cases are isolating at home.

Surveys of public opinion show support for Mr Suga’s government is steadily declining, a trajectory the governing party hopes the end of the Olympics will reverse before elections that are expected in the autumn.

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