Fighting the opposition and the fourth wave of COVID, Tokyo advances the Olympic Games

With the starting line approaching, Japan is preparing for the Summer Olympics.

The Olympic rings are printed on skyscrapers, hung on lamp posts, and planted stubbornly in the middle of Tokyo Bay-it seems that no pandemic will hinder it: Tokyo 2020 will be held in 21 years, which is due to the coronavirus crisis. After a year of postponement.

Last week, medals, mascots and podiums were unveiled in Tokyo with fanfare-a soundtrack of a spectacle that is about to sweep the Japanese capital.

Seiko Hashimoto, chairman of the Tokyo Organizing Committee, insisted that these Olympics must be held, “so that we can contribute to the renewed growth of connections between people who have been divided by the new crown virus.”

The problem is that there are still differences in people’s connections in Japan-public opinion is seriously opposed to the Olympics.

“It’s simply unreasonable to host the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer,” reads Recent editorial “The Asahi Shimbun”, one of Japan’s major newspapers.

In anti-Olympic protests last month, protesters marched around the Tokyo National Stadium. (Eugene Xingzi/Associated Press)

Some medical experts in the country are also frustrated that they think they have missed an opportunity to create a safe atmosphere before making a promise to move forward.

“We have scientific evidence and we know what to do to safely host the Olympics,” said Kenji Shibuya, a former health policy director and senior adviser to the head of the World Health Organization (WHO), who is now helping to manage Japan’s Fukushima vaccination program. “I am very disappointed that all this has not been done.

“We know how to reduce risk, how to avoid spread, and we know that vaccination is very, very effective-but we have not seen it yet,” he said in a Skype interview with CBC News.

Despite all the unprecedented pomp, Japan is working hard to get rid of the fourth wave of infection.The state of emergency expanded to the surrounding areas of Tokyo and eight other cities, and then Extend to at least June 20 — About a month before the opening ceremony scheduled to be held on July 23. In the worst-hit area near Osaka, hospitals are trying to keep up.

Vaccine rollout is slow

However, the situation in Japan is better than in many other parts of the world. Since the beginning of the pandemic, more than 760,000 COVID-19 cases and 13,600 deaths have been recorded. Johns Hopkins University Tracking. But one in five deaths occurred in the past month.

At the same time, the country’s vaccination efforts Already far behind In other G7 countries, Japan vaccinates 11% of its population in whole or in part. In comparison, the UK is close to 60% and Canada is 62%.

Two weeks ago, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said when it was too early to announce the end of the state of emergency: “I ask for your understanding and cooperation from the bottom of my heart.” Then he evaded whether the Olympics should continue under such circumstances. The problem is that “infection control measures” will be taken to protect athletes and the public.

According to these measures, foreign spectators are prohibited from participating in the Olympic Games. Although Japanese fans have already received tickets, the stands may be empty.

In what may be the loneliest Olympic Games ever, athletes, media and visiting officials will also be largely confined to a limited number of Olympic venues.Canadian athletes Currently preparing For that reason.

The Olympic rings are on display at the Olympic Stadium in Odaiba Ocean Park, Tokyo. Tokyo 2020 Chairman Seiko Hashimoto said that despite the general opposition from the Japanese people, she is 100% sure that the Olympic Games will continue. (Yamazaki Yuichi/Getty Images)

The cancellation of the Olympics will at least cost the Japanese government and corporate sponsors Estimated at US$22.3 billion. Some people in Japan worry that their country will lose face.

“As a country hosting the Olympics, we have raised our hands,” Irisawa Susumu told CBC News on the way home from get off work. “We have a responsibility to create a good environment for athletes.”

But the fear of widespread infection still exists in Tokyo. The head of the Japanese Doctors Union expressed concern that a new COVID mutant strain-an “Olympic variant” might appear this summer, and warned that since the emergence of the new type of coronavirus pneumonia, there has not been such a large-scale outbreak. The local crowd gathers. virus.

Of the 80,000 volunteers who signed up for the Olympics, about 10,000 dropped out.

“I think a lot of people want to know why they have to go so far [to hold the Games], “Tokyo resident Ryuto Kobayashi told CBC News.

“There are so many strains now, they are terrible,” Masai Takuma said. “And after all, life is more precious than the Olympics, and it would be better to cancel.”

Athletes who have arrived

A poll Last month, when asked whether the Olympics should be further postponed or cancelled altogether, 83% of respondents said the same. Online petition The request to cancel the Olympics “to protect our lives” has collected more than 420,000 signatures.

In addition to the risk of the new crown virus, the petition’s sponsor said that Tokyo spent so much money on the Olympics without allowing citizens and small businesses to survive the past year. This is really “outrageous.”

“The Olympics must be cancelled, and these precious resources must be used to support people who have fallen into poverty due to the pandemic,” Kenji Utsunomiya told CBC News.

There are only a few weeks left, and it may be too late.

At this week’s executive committee meeting, IOC President Thomas Bach announced “we are gone” before setting off for the starting ceremony in Tokyo. The International Olympic Committee stated that it is confident that Japan can guarantee the safety of the Olympic Games.

A torchbearer runs on the route of the Olympic torch relay in Sakata, Japan. As the Olympic torch relay is carried out across the country, most of the original route has been changed or cancelled altogether as local authorities took action to avoid large gatherings during the fourth wave of COVID-19 cases. (Carl Court/Getty Images)

Olympians also began to arrive in Japan. Player Jed Wall said that the Australian women’s softball team was one of the first teams to land last week-they are prepared for “a large number of COVID tests.”

After nearly three months of crisscrossing Japan, the Olympic flame is about to reach the final destination of the opening ceremony. Under the COVID agreement, the torch relay has been working hard—fewer people and more masks—and voice protests from opponents of the Olympics.

Nevertheless, at this stage, no one seems to kill these games.

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