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Japan PM Suga's Tokyo Olympic reception scrapped

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga speaks to reporters at his office in Tokyo on June 3, 2021. (Mainichi/Kan Takeuchi)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- A reception for overseas dignitaries scheduled to be hosted by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Aug. 8, the day of the Tokyo Olympic closing ceremony, has been canceled, a Cabinet member said Friday.

    "We will not basically do (an event) where people gather and that involves eating and drinking from the viewpoint of infection prevention," Olympic minister Tamayo Marukawa said at a regular press conference.

    The reception at a Tokyo hotel was also expected to be attended by officials of the International Olympic Committee, but it will be scrapped due to concern over potential coronavirus infections and as part of efforts to cut costs and scale down the games, according to Japanese officials.

    Japanese officials apparently made the decision to cancel the event because a large section of the public is critical of the prime minister's push to hold the games amid the pandemic.

    The Japanese government and the organizing committee have been working to streamline the Olympics and Paralympics since they were postponed in March last year due to the global health crisis.

    The IOC has already abandoned its plan to hold a large ceremony at Tokyo's National Theatre prior to the official opening of the Olympics on July 23.

    The Tokyo Games are likely to see as many as 78,000 officials and staff arrive from overseas, less than half the initially planned 180,000, but the Japanese organizers are seeking to further reduce the number.

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