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PM Suga to invite Biden to this summer's Tokyo Olympics

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga (Mainichi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Friday he will invite U.S. President Joe Biden to this summer's rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.

    "Of course, I think that will be the case," Suga said in a parliamentary session when asked about the possibility of welcoming Biden to the games when he travels to Washington next month for talks with the president.

    Addressing questions at the upper house's budget panel, Suga noted that the leaders from the Group of Seven industrialized nations have supported Japan staging the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics as planned.

    Last month, the G-7 leaders said in a joint statement they will back Japan's commitment to hold the games "in a safe and secure manner this summer as a symbol of global unity in overcoming COVID-19."

    The Olympics are due to open on July 23, a year after the original schedule due to the spread of the novel coronavirus.

    While public skepticism remains over whether they can go ahead, organizers, including the International Olympic Committee and the Tokyo metropolitan government, decided last week that overseas spectators will not be allowed to attend the global sporting event as a precaution amid the pandemic.

    Despite deep-seated health worries, the Japan leg of the torch relay for the Olympics started Thursday in Fukushima Prefecture, most affected by a nuclear meltdown triggered by the massive 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

    To prevent the spread of the virus, torchbearers who will run through Japan's 47 prefectures are asked to keep a log of their health condition, while fans are encouraged to watch live online broadcasts and wear masks and clap instead of cheer when they turn out.

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