IOC's Pound wants to examine reasons for Japan public's concerns


FILE PHOTO: International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Dick Pound, poses in his offices in Montreal, Quebec, Canada February 26, 2020. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

TOKYO (Reuters) - Senior International Olympic Committee member Dick Pound says he wants to examine the reasons behind the Japanese public's concerns about hosting the Games this summer after recent polls showed around 80% were opposed to the event going ahead in July.

While much of Japan is under a state of emergency due to a third wave of COVID-19 infections, organisers and the government have vowed to forge ahead with preparations for the postponed Games, which are due to run from July 23 to Aug. 8.

"I know there are those in Japan who question holding the event," Pound told the Asahi newspaper in comments published Wednesday in Japanese.

"Together I would like to scrutinise the reasons and respond. Are they are worried about a large number athletes and others from overseas spreading the coronavirus, are they against the cost, or maybe there are people who just don't like the Olympics."

Pound also appealed for people to take the feelings of athletes into consideration, noting that they had put in many years of work in order to step onto sport's biggest stage.

He said the decision on whether the Games go ahead this summer must be made by May at the latest and stressed that another delay was not possible.

"Personally, I think it's possible to hold the Games this summer," Pound said. "Several vaccines have been developed and people in the world are being vaccinated. The risk of coronavirus infection can be reduced."

(Reporting by Chris Gallagher; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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