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Tokyo Olympics still on despite COVID-19 surge

As Japan expands emergency curbs to contain its fourth wave of the coronavirus, the Tokyo Olympics chief said Friday Japan is still committed to holding the Games this summer.

Olympic and government officials have ruled out postponing the Games again, originally scheduled for last year.

But medical experts have urged officials to rethink that decision.

A senior ruling party official conceded Thursday that cancelling the Games remains an option if the situation doesn't improve, while nearly two-thirds of Japanese said the Olympics should be cancelled or postponed in a recent poll.

Tokyo Olympics chief Seiko Hashimoto addressed the growing controversy on Friday.

"In order to address these thoughts, we will take thorough measures, ones that will make people believe it will be absolutely fine to hold the Tokyo Games. We will take all possible safety measures and continue our efforts to hold the Games."

A scaled-back torch relay for the Games is already underway.

Meanwhile, overseas fans have been barred from the Games and officials say that domestic fans may be kept out too.

In addition to struggling to contain virus transmission, Japan has been hampered by limited testing capacity and a slow vaccination rollout.

Less than one percent of the Japanese public have received their first shot so far, compared to 2.5% in South Korea and 48% in the United Kingdom.

The Tokyo Games are set to kick off on July 23, just a little under 100 days away.