The following is the latest list of selected news summaries by Kyodo News.


Tokyo Olympic ceremony director sacked for Holocaust joke

TOKYO - The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee on Thursday fired a director of the creative team behind the games' opening and closing ceremonies for joking in the past about the Holocaust, the decision coming just a day before the start of the global sporting event.

The dismissal of former comedian Kentaro Kobayashi is the latest in a series of embarrassments for the organizing body of the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, which are being held under unprecedented restrictions because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Tokyo reports 1,979 new COVID-19 cases, day before Olympic ceremony

TOKYO - The Tokyo metropolitan government reported 1,979 new daily COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a day before the Olympic ceremony and the highest number since mid-January, as fears grow that the games could become a superspreader event amid the transmission of the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant.

The Olympic opening ceremony will be held on Friday without fans due to coronavirus restrictions in the capital, which is currently under a COVID-19 state of emergency declared amid surging infections.


Japan emperor tells Bach holding Olympics amid pandemic "far from easy"

Japanese Emperor Naruhito told International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach during their meeting on Thursday that it is "a far from easy task" to hold the games while taking full measures against COVID-19.

During the meeting at the Imperial Palace, Bach, visiting Tokyo for the Olympics, promised to the emperor that maximum efforts would be made to prevent risks to the people of Japan.


Japan PM Suga kicks off Olympics diplomacy, meets U.S. first lady

TOKYO - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday began a three-day marathon of meetings with foreign dignitaries attending the opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics, among them U.S. first lady Jill Biden and French President Emmanuel Macron.

The leaders of about 15 countries and international organizations are slated to attend the event at the National Stadium on Friday evening, which will be held without spectators from the general public as the capital remains under a COVID-19 state of emergency.


Japan mulls asking Pfizer to speed up COVID-19 vaccine delivery

TOKYO - The Japanese government is considering asking Pfizer Inc. to speed up its delivery of COVID-19 vaccine beyond the fall amid concern about a supply shortage, a government source said Thursday.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is expected to make the request in an upcoming meeting with the U.S. pharmaceutical giant's CEO, Albert Bourla, the source said.


Olympics: 2 athletes, 10 others among new Olympic-related virus cases

TOKYO - The Tokyo Games' organizing committee reported 12 new positive COVID-19 cases relating to the Olympics on Thursday, with two of the cases involving foreign athletes residing in the athletes' village.

A total of 87 people associated with the Games have so far tested positive for the virus in Tokyo since visitors started arriving for the 2020 Games, including a first case at the athletes' village on Saturday.


Olympics: Miu Goto saves day as Japanese softball team walks off vs Mexico

FUKUSHIMA, Japan - Relief pitcher Miu Goto stranded five runners over the final two innings as Japan beat Mexico 3-2 on Thursday to improve to 2-0 in the Tokyo Olympic softball tournament.

Japan manager Reika Utsugi left ace Yukiko Ueno on the mound in the seventh to celebrate her 39th birthday with what she hoped would be a complete-game victory, but the right-hander surrendered the tying run and left the game with two on and no outs.


Petition calls for A-bomb victims to be remembered during Olympics

TOKYO - A former mayor of Hiroshima has launched an online petition calling for a moment of silence to be observed during the Tokyo Olympics at the time the atomic bomb was dropped on his western Japan city on Aug. 6.

Tadatoshi Akiba, 78, launched the campaign on the day International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach visited Hiroshima on July 16, amid opposition from some A-bomb survivors who said the visit ahead of the Tokyo Games starting Friday was politically motivated.