Impossible to hold Olympics unless COVID-19 pandemic is contained — Japan’s PM

first_imgPrime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that the Tokyo Olympics may not take place next year unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained.His comment has come as the Japanese capital city’s governor requested an extension of Japan’s state of emergency. The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government last month postponed the Games until July 2021 because of the coronavirus crisis.With the epidemic’s worldwide infection rate climbing and experts suggesting a vaccine is a long way off, doubts have been raised about the chances of holding the huge event next year.Abe said in response to an opposition lawmaker: “We’ve been saying the Olympic and Paralympic Games must be held in a complete form, in that athletes and spectators can all participate safely.“It would be impossible to hold the Games in such a complete form unless the coronavirus pandemic is contained.”Abe staked part of his legacy as Japan’s longest-serving premier on holding the Games and was hoping for a boom in tourism and consumer spending. Japan gathered some $3 billion in domestic sponsorship, an Olympic record, and spent close to $13 billion on preparations.The prime minister said on Wednesday that the Olympics “must be held in a way that shows (that) the world has won its battle against the coronavirus pandemic.”He went on to caution that Japan should “brace for a protracted battle”.Tokyo confirmed 47 new infections on Wednesday, private broadcaster Nippon Television reported.The national tally stands at 13,895 infections, including 413 deaths, national broadcaster NHK said. That tally is still low compared to other countries.However, critics say Japan is not doing enough testing to reveal the scope of a problem that has driven some hospitals to the brink.Reflecting that view, Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike told reporters that the situation in the Japanese capital remained “difficult”.He called on Abe’s cabinet to extend the nationwide emergency, which is due to end on May 6.RelatedPosts COVID-19: NCAA to revoke erring airlines licence over non-compliance FRSC to Schools: We’ll arrest, prosecute drivers who flout COVID-19 rules Sanwo-Olu: We’re committed to fulfilling promises to Lagosians Abe’s comments echoed statements made by other senior Japanese officials this week.Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori had told Nikkan Sports on Tuesday that the Games would be “scrapped” if they could not take place in 2021.Also on Tuesday, the head of the Japan Medical Association (JMA), Yoshitake Yokokura, told a news briefing that “unless an effective vaccine is developed, I expect hosting the Olympics will be difficult”.Reuters/NAN.Tags: CoronavirusCOVID-19IOCJapanolympicsPrime Minister Shinzo AbeTokyo Olympicslast_img read more

Hamilton pips Vettel to Chinese GP pole

first_img(REUTERS) Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton stormed to pole position for Sunday’s Chinese Grand Prix after clocking the fastest-ever lap of the Shanghai circuit in the dying seconds of a hard-fought qualifying session on Saturday.The triple world champion lapped the 5.4-kilometer long circuit in one minute, 31.678 seconds in his Mercedes, edging Ferrari rival Sebastian Vettel by 0.186 seconds.Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas was third, just one-thousandth of a second further adrift.“I didn’t know whether we would be ahead or behind,” Hamilton told reporters.“All I knew I could do is to just do the best lap I could possibly do and each time I went out I eked out a little bit more time.”Hamilton’s fastest lap in Shanghai bettered Michael Schumacher’s 2004 timing by over half a second.It also gave Hamilton his 63rd pole and a record sixth in China, making him only the third driver after Schumacher and Ayrton Senna to secure six poles at the same grand prix.The Briton is now five behind Schumacher’s overall record of 68 poles.It was also the 58th time in 61 races that a Mercedes will start at the front.The German outfit was hotly pursued by Ferrari though.Vettel set a scorching pace to top the final practice session earlier on Saturday. The German and teammate Kimi Raikkonen, who was fourth, also topped the timesheets at the end of the first two parts of qualifying.Ferrari appeared to be on course to seize pole, with even Mercedes boss Niki Lauda betting against his own team. But in the end Vettel missed out.“Maybe I ‘chickened’ on to the brakes a bit too soon,” said the 29-year-old Vettel.“Obviously it was very close with Valtteri;good job we got just enough margin to make it to the front row.”Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo set the fifth-fastest time ahead of Williams driver Felipe Massa.Nico Hulkenberg went seventh-quickest for Renault ahead of Force India’s Sergio Perez.Russian Daniil Kvyat in the Toro Rosso was ninth with 18-year-old Williams rookie Lance Stroll rounding out the top 10.Fernando Alonso, who impressively hustled his McLaren Honda into the second part of qualifying, will start 13th.Sauber’s Antonio Giovinazzi, who got impressively up to speed on his debut in Australia as a stand-in for Pascal Wehrlein, caused the biggest drama of the day when he ricocheted off the barrier lining the start-finish straight after losing control of his car in the final corner.Max Verstappen, nursing an engine problem with his Red Bull, was unable to progress past the first part of qualifying after being forced to abort his lap. He ended up 19th on the timesheets.Sunday’s race will see Vettel going all out to cement Ferrari’s credentials as genuine title contenders with a second successive win, after his triumph in the season-opening race in Australia.Hamilton, however, is the most successful driver at the Shanghai circuit with four victories to his name.However, with rain forecast for Sunday, teams could be heading into the unknown, especially after the weather all but wiped out the first two practice sessions on Friday.last_img read more