Osaka city mayor Ichiro Matsui and Osaka prefecture governor Hirofumi Yoshimura on Thursday made a strong pitch for the Olympic Torch relay in their city to be cancelled owing to a surge in Covid-19 cases.
“Looking at the situation of the relay in (other parts of) the country, it has been crowded with many people. It is very unfortunate, but it should not take place,” Matsui said at a press conference.
“I personally think the Torch relay in Osaka city should be cancelled. We’d like to start discussions with Osaka city and Tokyo 2020,” Yoshimura told reporters.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday that the government had designated the Osaka, Hyogo and Miyagi prefectures for strong measures to control the pandemic.
Osaka reported 616 fresh infections on Thursday, the highest in more than two months, even exceeding Tokyo’s 475 cases, with less than four months to go for the Summer Olympics.
The 121-day 2021 Tokyo Torch relay started on March 25 at Japan’s northeastern Fukushima prefecture.
The Olympic Games are scheduled to start on July 23.