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15 Jun, 2020 12:42

'It will be IMPOSSIBLE': Former film star promises to CANCEL Olympic Games in 2021 if he becomes governor of Tokyo this summer

'It will be IMPOSSIBLE': Former film star promises to CANCEL Olympic Games in 2021 if he becomes governor of Tokyo this summer

Actor-turned politician Taro Yamamoto, who featured in hit action film Battle Royale in 2000, has promised to cancel the postponed Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics should he prevail when the city votes on its new governer in July.

Olympic bosses who remain hopeful of holding the games in Japan next summer are guaranteed to see their plans scuppered in the event of an election win for Yamamoto, who has named the withdrawal of Tokyo as the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) host city as his first priority.

The 45-year-old veteran of Japanese film and television has set eight "emergency policies" for the capital as part of his bid to become leader, pledging to scrap the showpiece that was postponed by a year in March following talks between prime minister Shinzo Abe and the IOC.

"Given the coronavirus infections around the world, it will not be possible to hold an Olympics next year," the prominent grassroots anti-nuclear campaigner has insisted on his campaign website, which has a distinctive pink color scheme.

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"If you cling to the Olympics, you will not be able to properly judge the second and third waves [of the virus] and it will cost extra."

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto revealed that 80 percent of the venues for the rearranged games had been agreed last week, but admitted that he could not "really promise that the Olympics and Paralympics will be held in 2021 for sure."

Around $3 billion in domestic sponsorship has been secured for what is expected to be a simplified version of the games next July and August.

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Incumbent governer Yuriko Koike, who is widely expected to comfortably win the election, pledged a "120 percent effort" to host the games as a "symbol of human triumph" over the virus.

"Tokyo residents know that the summer games next year in 2021 is not possible unless the impact of coronavirus calms down," the 67-year-old told AFP on Saturday, echoing a warning by the IOC that the games will be canceled entirely if they are not held next year.

Japan has suffered fewer than 1,000 deaths during the pandemic, leading to the national state of emergency being lifted at the end of May.

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Yamamoto made a late decision to run for governor in the elections this July, having spent almost seven years as an elected member of the House of Councilors, including periods with the Lifestyle Party, Taro Yamamoto and Friends and the Liberal Party.

His other policies include a payment of more than $900 to each resident as pandemic relief, secure housing for tenants on low wages and more nursery schools and nursing care for the elderly.

"My career in politics has been consistent for reasons of judgment," declares his website, which also lists surfing as his sole hobby.

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"I want to help suffering people – that's it."

Yamamoto's supporters backed him on Twitter, where the man who played a vengeful combatant bearing a shotgun in dystopian thriller Battle Royale has almost 418,000 followers.

"I dreamed of the day when you would rampage into national politics," said one. "Please save the region."

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