Japan’s top medical advisor warns against hosting Olympics

Government medical advisor Shigeru Omi told a parliamentary committee that hosting the Olympics during the pandemic is 'not normal.'

Tokyo Olympics
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Tokyo Olympics

With less than two months before the commencement of the Tokyo Olympics, Omi’s statement arrived amid an extended state of emergency in the city and a low vaccination rate for the entire country.

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Japan struggling with COVID-19

Omi explained that if the games proceed under Japan’s current conditions, then organizers should downsize the event and strengthen health protocols to prioritize safety.

Because of the state of emergency in Tokyo and nine other regions, organizers cannot make a decision yet if fans will be able to attend the Olympics in person. Experts said infections need to drop to below 100 per day to safely host the games.

There were about 700 new infections just last Thursday, and hospitals are described as overwhelmed right now. Currently, only 2.7 per cent of the population are vaccinated.

Japan has suffered more than 13,000 deaths due to the novel coronavirus. Last month, a 6,000-member Tokyo doctor association sent an open letter to government officials calling for the Olympics and the Paralympics a month later to be halted.

They wrote:

Viruses are spread by people’s movements. Japan will hold a heavy responsibility if the Olympics and Paralympics work to worsen the pandemic, increasing the number of those who must suffer and die.

Reportedly, the general sentiment in Japan is that people do not want to host the games as the pandemic worsens. Omi in his parliamentary speech said it was vital for organizers to clarify their vision for hosting the Olympics so that the public will get on board.

Thus far, the country has spent more than $15 billion organizing the games.

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