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Vaccines decisive for Tokyo Olympics, says Bill Gates

Many believe that whether the Tokyo Olympics can be held or not will be decided in late March

The progress of vaccine distribution will play a decisive role on whether the Tokyo Olympic Games can be held or not, Microsoft Co-founder and philanthropist Bill Gates has said.

"I think in the next few months, we have to look at the progress we make (in distributing vaccines)," Gates told Japan's Kyodo news agency on Tuesday, reported Xinhua.

"But you know, I think it's still possible if things go well.

"If things don't go well, that would be unfortunate, but you know, we're doing our best to help those vaccines get approved and get going for the entire world," he was quoted as saying.

The spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has slowed down in Tokyo three weeks after the Japanese capital entered a state of emergency.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government confirmed 973 new cases on Wednesday.

The latest figure, as of Sunday and Monday, dipped below the 1,000-mark, before rising above the threshold on Tuesday where new daily infections in the city of 14 million rose to 1,026.

But a growing number of people in the Japanese government believe it will be necessary to extend the state of emergency for parts of the country continuing to see a high number of coronavirus cases.

Due to be lifted on February 7, the state of emergency could remain in place until the end of February, Kyodo said.

It also reported that the final artistic swimming qualifier for the Tokyo Olympics will not be held as scheduled here from March 4 to 7, which means the restart of the Olympic test events will have to be postponed.

Many believe that whether the Tokyo Olympics can be held or not will be decided in late March.

Meanwhile, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has urged the teams competing in the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games, scheduled to be held later in the year in Tokyo, to be vaccinated against novel coronavirus.