Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga 'determined' to hold Olympics

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, despite growing uncertainty as coronavirus cases rise at home, renewed his determination Friday to host the postponed Tokyo Olympics this summer.

"We are holding the Olympics and Paralympics this summer," said Suga, speaking from Tokyo at a virtual meeting of the World Economic Forum. "I am determined to achieve the Games as a proof of human victory against the pandemic, a symbol of global solidarity and to give hope and courage around the world."

Olympic officials have repeatedly said the Games will be held in July as planned after a one-year postponement, though various scenarios, including holding events without spectators, are being considered. On Wednesday, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach said talk of delays or cancellations is damaging for the thousands of athletes preparing to take part this year.

Suga repeated his resolve to achieve a "safe and secure" Olympics and pledged to get infections under control in Japan as soon as possible.

"We must learn lessons from this pandemic and be prepared for future crises," he said.

At home, Suga has been criticized for delaying virus measures until daily cases surged to new highs in late December. He eventually declared a partial state of emergency in early January, issuing non-binding requests through Feb. 7 for people to avoid crowds or eating out in groups and for restaurants and bars to close early.

New cases in Tokyo have dipped, but experts say they have not slowed enough, indicating that the emergency measures could be extended for several more weeks.

Suga called for a transparent investigation by the World Health Organization into the pandemic, saying it is key to learning lessons to prepare for future pandemics. He also promised to expand an initial $130 million contribution to a fund to help developing countries acquire coronavirus vaccines.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.