Tokyo governor vows full measures to combat coronavirus during Torch relay


TOKYO (Reuters) – Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike on Saturday vowed to take thorough measures against the coronavirus outbreak for the Olympic Torch relay through Japan and reaffirmed that preparations for a “safe and secure” 2020 Games were progressing, TV Asahi reported.

A man wearing a protective face mask, following an outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), walks past the Olympic rings in front of the Japan Olympics Museum in Tokyo, Japan March 13, 2020. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Koike’s comments came after Greece’s Olympic Committee on Friday canceled the remainder of the Olympic Torch relay through the country to avoid attracting crowds that could raise the risk of virus contagion.

The Olympic Torch relay through Japan is scheduled to start on March 26 in northern Fukushima prefecture.

“(We’re) taking thorough infection measures with regards to the Olympic Torch relay domestically,” Koike said according to TV Asahi, adding that preparations for a safe and secure Games were moving forward.

Japan has sought to dispel speculation that the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games could be canceled or postponed over the coronavirus outbreak, which has crippled global travel and brought the sports world to a virtual standstill.

Japan had 14 new coronavirus cases as of mid-afternoon on Saturday, bringing the total number of cases in the country to 1,436, a Reuters tally of local media reports showed.

The total infections include 697 from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and 14 returnees on chartered flights from China, according to data from public broadcaster NHK.

The virus has killed 28 people in Japan, including seven from the cruise ship, NHK said.

On Friday, Japan’s parliament approved a bill giving Prime Minister Shinzo Abe emergency powers that will let him close schools, halt large gatherings and requisition medical supplies as the country tries to slow the virus outbreak.

Abe will hold a news conference at 6 p.m. (0900GMT) on Saturday, the government said on Friday.

Reporting by Daniel Leussink; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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