Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a champion of the country’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic hosting bid, has resigned amid health concerns.
CNN reports that Abe suffers from colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. Shinzo resigned early in his first term as prime minister due to the condition in 2007. He was re-elected as prime minister in 2012 and has been in office for the eight years since.
Abe appeared in the closing ceremonies of the 2016 Rio Olympics. Dressed as video game character Super Mario, Abe invited the world to the next Summer Olympics, set for Tokyo, Japan four years later. CNN called securing the bid for the Tokyo Olympics “one of Abe’s major domestic achievements.”
“My successor will continue to fulfill that responsibility by closely cooperating with organizers,” Abe said this week. “There are various matters that we need to address.”
The Associated Press quoted Temple University Tokyo professor Jeff Kingston, who says that Abe’s departure shouldn’t have much impact this close to the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.
“The Olympics benefited from his backing but now the situation is beyond the prime minister’s control,” Kingston said.
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed almost exactly one year amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. They’re set to begin on July 23, 2021 and run through August 8.