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G7 leaders support Japan in going ahead with Olympics
Feb 21. 2021
By The Japan News / ANN
LONDON — The leaders of the Group of Seven advanced nations agreed, in a statement issued after a virtual meeting on Friday, to “support the commitment of Japan to hold the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 in a safe and secure manner this summer as a symbol of global unity in overcoming COVID-19.”
The seven also agreed to tackle the global distribution of vaccines against COVID-19, including in developing countries.
The videoconference, held late Friday (Japan time), was the first meeting of the G7 leaders since a videoconference in April 2020.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga explained his intention of holding the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer, and the leaders expressed in their joint statement that the G7 would support Japan’s commitment.
The meeting, called and chaired by British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was the first G7 meeting to feature Suga, U.S. President Joe Biden and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi as the heads of their respective governments. The G7 also includes Canada, France and Germany.
The G7 was thrown into disarray when the U.S. administration was led by then President Donald Trump. Friday’s G7 talks were aimed at reaffirming the solidarity of the G7, a group that shares common democratic values, and at rebuilding international cooperation. The joint statement included their pledge “to make 2021 a turning point for multilateralism.”
Suga explained Japan’s policy of contributing $200 million (about ¥21.1 billion) to COVAX, an international project for joint purchase of vaccines against COVID-19, and stated his opposition to “protectionism in the area of public health.”
With the latest pledges by the G7 leaders, including Biden, the overall contributions that the G7 has pledged to make to COVAX — and to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), an international initiative dedicated to the rapid development and equitable deployment of vaccines and therapeutic drugs, — has been raised by more than $4 billion (or about ¥422 billion) to total $7.5 billion (or about ¥791 billion).
The G7 leaders pledged to raise their contributions to these international frameworks, such as COVAX, because developing countries, in which vaccinations against the virus have been delayed, feel discontented by a belief that developed nations have been hoarding the vaccines. The increased contribution is meant to dispel such a viewpoint among developing countries and to unite the G7 in countering China and Russia, which are promoting their own vaccine diplomacy. Biden was said to have also highlighted the importance of advanced nations taking the initiative in bringing the global economy back to a recovery track from the coronavirus pandemic.
As for the Tokyo Games, Suga expressed his bid to hold the events as “testimony that human beings will have won the battle with the novel coronavirus.” He also explained to other G7 leaders that to realize a safe and secure Olympics, Japan would advance its preparations for the Games, including measures against infections with the virus, in cooperation with the International Olympic Committee.