Thu | Jul 2, 2020

Japan’s Abe says vaccine a priority for Olympics

Published:Monday | May 25, 2020 | 9:51 AM
A public tv screen shows Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe speaking at a press conference Monday, May 25, 2020, in Tokyo. Abe announced the lift of a coronavirus state of emergency from Tokyo and four other remaining prefectures. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

TOKYO — Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Monday said the swift development of vaccines and effective treatments for COVID-19 are priorities towards achieving the Tokyo Olympics next year.

Abe said recovery from the coronavirus pandemic only in Japan would not be enough to hold the Games, because it involves spectators and athletes from around the world.

Abe reiterated that the government hopes to hold the Tokyo Games “in a complete form” — with spectators — as a proof of human victory against the coronavirus.

In late March, when the coronavirus became a global pandemic, Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Games by one year to July 2021.

Experts say developing an effective and safe vaccine by the Games next year would be difficult. Abe acknowledged Monday that the fight against the virus “would be an endurance battle.”

Abe made the remark at a news conference Monday as he declared an end to a state of emergency across the nation.

Japan, with about 16,600 confirmed cases and about 850 deaths, has so far avoided a large outbreak like those experienced in the US and Europe despite its softer restrictions.

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