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Tokyo Olympics chief hopes for ‘swift return to normalcy’ as fears rise for Games after Japan declares Covid emergency

Tokyo Olympics chief hopes for ‘swift return to normalcy’ as fears rise for Games after Japan declares Covid emergency
Tokyo Olympics organizers maintain that they are unwilling to cancel this summer's Games despite a "short" state of emergency being imposed in regions including the Japanese capital.

Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared a targeted state of emergency for four prefectures including Tokyo and Osaka in an attempt to halt a surge in Covid-19 cases, with just three months to go before the Olympics.

The government implemented tougher restrictions, such as banning restaurants and bars from serving alcohol, temporarily closing department stores and movie theaters, and barring spectators at sports games, which will be in place from Sunday through May 11.

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"We will implement short and intensive measures during Golden Week, strengthening steps related to eating establishments and temporarily halting the flow of people," Suga said.

The emergency declaration which covers roughly a quarter of Japan's population of 126 million has raised doubts over the country’s ability to host the summer Games, which are set to take place in July.

Suga said the country would take measures to ensure it could safely host the Olympics, which were already postponed last year due to the pandemic.

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Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said the Games organizers were not considering cancelling the event.

"We, as Tokyo 2020, continue to wish for the swift return to normalcy and will continue to work closely with the relevant parties to make sure a safe and secure Olympics can happen," she told a news conference.