TOKYO – Jill Biden and Emmanuel Macron will have privileges in Tokyo: the first lady of the United States and the president of France will be the two high-level political visitors to whom Japan’s government will devote the most time on the opening ceremony weekend of the 2020 Olympic Games.
A weekend with a shortage of world leaders. According to the “Yomiuri Shimbun”, just 30 heads of state and government will be at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium this Friday, “the lowest number ever recorded at recent Games”.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will meet with Macron and Biden, as well as the heads of state of Mongolia, Poland and other countries at the State Guest House in the Motoakasaka district of Tokyo from Thursday to Saturday, said the paper. The prime minister also plans to meet with leaders of international organizations, including World Health Organisation chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
According to the Japanese newspaper, “most of the talks are expected to last 15 to 20 minutes, and will be held consecutively. However, the prime minister is expected to set aside a larger block of time to meet with Jill Biden on Friday, to make it clear that Japan prioritizes the relationship with the United States”.
Something similar will happen with Macron, who will have dinner with Suga on Saturday to confirm future cooperation between the two countries, as Paris will host the 2024 Olympic Games.
“The Yomiuri Shinbun” added that “more than 100 such people were initially expected to attend the Tokyo Olympics’ opening ceremony. However, Britain’s Princess Anne and U.N. Secretary General Antonio Guterres decided not to come, citing the COVID-19 pandemic as a reason”.
Another reason for the foreign leaders’ cancellation of their trips “seems to be the tight restrictions imposed by the Japanese government, such as banning contact with athletes from their countries.”
South Korean President Moon Jae-in last week refused to hold a summit with Suga using the inaugural ceremony because of “insufficient” understanding between the two countries, the presidency office in Seoul said.