Japan’s Imperial Palace said Thursday that Emperor Naruhito is “extremely worried” that the Olympic Games in Tokyo could worsen the epidemiological situation in the country.
“His majesty is extremely worried about the current situation of the COVID-19 infections,” Yasuhiko Nishimura, grand steward of the Imperial Household Agency said, according to The Associated Press (AP).
“While there are voices of unease among the public, I believe (the emperor) is concerned that holding the Olympics and Paralympics … may lead to the expansion of the infections,” Nishimura added, speaking at a press conference held less than a month ahead of the start of the Games.
The head of Japan’s Imperial Household Agency said he believes Emperor Naruhito is concerned that the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics may cause a further increase in the number of coronavirus cases.#Tokyo2020 #Olympics #COVIDhttps://t.co/8Dt626o1U2
— Nikkei Asia (@NikkeiAsia) June 24, 2021
While the emperor is a symbolical figure and wields no real political power, his words are usually taken into consideration, according to AP.
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, however, is determined to hold the Olympics despite the public’s concerns and the warnings of health experts, AP reported. (RELATED: ‘Racial Propaganda’: Taking A Knee To Protest Will Not Be Tolerated At Tokyo Olympics)
The Tokyo Olympics announced Monday that up to 10,000 Japanese spectators will be allowed at each event during the Games.
The Games’ organizers had banned foreign nationals from entering Japan to attend the event, citing fears of the spread of the virus, in a decision announced in March.