TOKYO: Japanese opposition lawmakers slammed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Monday for what they called his "Olympics first" attitude in prioritising the event even as COVID cases continue to rise on the country.
Suga pushed back at the criticism during a question and answer session in the Japanese parliament, saying his role is to do his utmost to ensure the health and safety of all during the July 23rd-August 8th games.
Concerns are rising about the ability of Suga's government to get infections under control ahead of the Olympics, which start in just over two months.
Suga decided Friday to extend a state of emergency in Tokyo until May 31 and expand the measure to six prefectures from the current four.
Japan logged about 7,000 new cases on Saturday, a highest since mid-January.
Suga added he arranged for Pfizer to donate its vaccine for athletes via the IOC, which would contribute to holding the games safely.
Public calls for a cancellation have been on the rise.
An online petition calling for the Olympics to be cancelled has gained more than 300,000 signatures in a week while a weekend survey by Japan's largest newspaper showed about 60% of the respondents calling for a cancellation.
IOC President Thomas Bach cancelled his planned trip to Japan next week because of surging cases of COVID-19 in the country, the Tokyo Olympic organising committee said on Monday in a statement.
Bach was to visit Hiroshima next Monday and meet the torch relay and then probably travel to Tokyo.