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EU backs holding of Tokyo Olympics in ‘safe, secure manner’

BRUSSELS (Agencies): The EU leadership has voiced support for holding the delayed Tokyo Olympics in “safe and secure manner” despite opposition from various groups in the country.

“Olympics, set to begin July 23, will be a symbol of global unity in defeating COVID-19,” the EU Council President Charles Michel and the EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in a joint statement with Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday after holding a virtual summit.

Tokyo Olympics was set to be held last summer but was delayed due to the raging pandemic across the world. The world’s biggest games are set to begin this July with ban on international spectators and rigorous health measures to prevent the spread of the virus.

The two sides also discussed COVID-19 vaccine distribution, besides “efforts to realize a free and open Indo-Pacific region amid China’s growing influence”, Tokyo-based Kyodo News reported.

They underscored the “importance of peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait and voiced “serious concerns over the situation in waters surrounding China.” “[We] strongly oppose any unilateral attempts to change the status quo and increase tensions,”: the joint statement said.

Meanwhile, Suga said COVID-19 infections were “declining in Japan but vigilance was needed.” The country of 127 million people has reported 729,853 coronavirus cases – including 12,60 deaths since the beginning of the outbreak in December 2019.

The Japanese government has imposed a state of emergency in at least nine provinces, including capital Tokyo, with officials saying it will be extended in eight provinces until June 20.