COVID-19: Tokyo postpones training for Olympics volunteers as government faces criticism

At a time when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe should be basking in the limelight, the COVID-19 outbreak that has spread from China to even remote parts of Japan has the leader and his ruling Liberal Democratic Party playing defence.

Late Friday, organizers for the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics announced they have postponed training for volunteers because of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Training was scheduled to be held starting Saturday but will be rescheduled, the organizing committee said in a statement, adding organizers are not considering cancelling the games.

Abe has skated through numerous scandals since taking office in late 2012, promising to “Make Japan Great Again.” A relatively strong economy, robust share prices and the absence of strong political rivals have enabled him to hang on as the country’s longest-serving prime minister, with a solid majority coalition.

But at a time when the country should be gearing up for the mass celebration of its first Summer Olympics since 1964, Abe and his government are battling criticism from both within and outside Japan over how they’ve dealt with the outbreak.

That’s particularly true of Tokyo’s handling of the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship stuck in quarantine off the coast of Yokohama as growing numbers of its 3,700 passengers and crew fell sick or were evacuated.

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