(Bloomberg) — While Shigeru Omi may invite comparisons to Anthony Fauci, Japan’s top Covid-19 adviser has shown little of his American counterpart’s flair for challenging politicians. That is, until he started suggesting banning spectators from the Tokyo Olympics.
Omi, the government’s top adviser on Covid-19, is a mild-mannered 72-year-old public health expert often seen by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s side. But his concern over the health risks seems to have prompted him to question the government’s plans to allow domestic fans at the Olympics.
The two were on the same page at a news conference Thursday after Suga announced the state of emergency for Tokyo and other regions would end on June 20, as planned. Suga deferred to Omi to provide details on virus variants, herd immunity and vaccination strategy, following a similar pattern of having his most prominent virus adviser provide scientific context when they’ve shared the stage.
But Omi appeared to open a gap with Suga, who has pressed ahead with holding the Olympics as planned, when he told a parliamentary committee on June 2 that “it’s not normal” to be staging the global sports spectacle in the middle of a pandemic. The organizers needed to make a stronger case for holding the event in order to gain people’s necessary cooperation, he said.
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