Japan’s inability to contain the COVID-19 pandemic means plans to host the Tokyo Olympics need to be reconsidered, health experts said in a comment.
The 2020 Games, which have already been postponed by a year, should start in less than 100 days, even as Japan expands quasi-emergency measures to stop a fourth wave of infections. Read more
Japan has shown “poor performance” in limiting the transmission of viruses, along with limited testing capacity and a slow spread of vaccination, according to a commentary published in the British Medical Journal on Wednesday.
“Plans for the Olympic and Paralympic Games this summer need to be reviewed urgently,” wrote lead author Kazuki Shimizu of the London School of Economics.
“Holding Tokyo 2020 for domestic political and economic purposes – ignoring scientific and moral imperatives – runs counter to Japan’s commitment to global health and security.”
The comment adds to the drum of doubt among medical professionals that the Olympics can be held safely this summer. A survey of more than 1,000 Japanese doctors last month found that 75% believe it is better to postpone the games, according to the Ishinotomo doctors’ recommendation company.
University of Kyoto professor Hiroshi Nishiura, an adviser to the government’s pandemic response, insisted in a comment to a magazine this week that authorities were postponing the Olympics by a year to allow more time for vaccination.
Japan launched its inoculation initiative in February, later than most major economies. Only 0.9% of the Japanese audience has received its first shot so far, compared to 2.5% in South Korea and 48% in the United Kingdom.
Olympic and government officials said there could be no further postponement of the Games.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said on Thursday that the government would do “everything possible” to prevent further infection before the games, after a ruling party official said canceling the event remained an option. Read more
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