Tokyo 2020 board talks vaccines, but no word on further delay

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Organizing Committee Chairman Seiko Hashimoto and Tokyo Organizing Committee CEO Toshiro Muto discuss ahead of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games Executive Board meeting in Tokyo, in Japan, June 8, 2021. Behrouz Mehri / Pool via REUTERS

TOKYO – Japan’s 2020 Olympics committee may seek new vaccine donations to make the rescheduled Games as safe as possible, the Tokyo 2020 CEO said on Tuesday after a board meeting, stressing that he didn’t had no question of further delays.

The Olympics have already been postponed for a year due to global concerns over how organizers can keep Japanese volunteers, athletes, officials and the public safe when they begin on July 23 after a fourth wave infections.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto categorically denied that there was any talk of cancellation or further postponement at the board meeting.

“There was no discussion about it,” he told reporters.

Instead, he raised the possibility of researching other vaccines, adding that “there is an ongoing discussion on whether we should more widely vaccinate personnel related to the Olympics.”

Most Japanese are against holding the Games, several polls have shown, and a leading Japanese virologist and government adviser on Tuesday said it was impossible to have the Games without risk.

Tohoku University professor Hitoshi Oshitani was the architect of Japan’s “three C’s” approach to the pandemic, which advises avoiding closed spaces, crowds and close contact.

“It is 100% impossible to have the Olympics with zero risk… of the infection spreading to Japan and also to other countries after the Olympics,” The London Times said, citing Oshitani.

“There are a number of countries that don’t have a lot of cases, and a number that don’t have variants. We shouldn’t make the Olympics (an opportunity) to spread the virus to these countries, ”he added, noting that most countries lack vaccines.

However, a former Olympian turned public health expert said she believes the Games can be hosted with an acceptable level of risk.

“There will be cases, but having a case or a few cases does not mean it was a failure,” Tara Kirk Sell, professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told Reuters on Tuesday.

Manuals from event organizers detailing testing regimes and movement restrictions for athletes and other visitors “outline a good strategy” to minimize contagion, Sell added.

Pray for safe games

Media arriving from overseas to cover the Games will be closely monitored to ensure they do not leave pre-registered areas such as hotels and sports venues, Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said. She also said that Japanese staff linked to the Olympics are expected to start getting vaccinated in mid-June.

“… We are still in a very difficult situation, but we have seen a gradual decrease in infections in Tokyo, and I pray that the pandemic is brought under control as quickly as possible,” Hashimoto said at the start of the Tokyo board of directors. 2020 Meeting.

Japan has been spared the explosive outbreaks seen elsewhere but has recorded more than 760,000 cases and more than 13,600 deaths. Tokyo and other areas are in a state of emergency as the country grapples with a fourth wave that strains hospitals.

Senior government medical adviser Shigeru Omi said last week that medical experts were planning a declaration on the Games by June 20, when the state of emergency is expected to be lifted.

A union on the northern island of Hokkaido, where the Olympic marathon will take place, asked its governor on Monday to cancel the Games, media said.

Kaori Yamaguchi, a member of the board of directors of the Japanese Olympic Committee, a bronze medalist in judo at the 1988 Games, said on Friday that Japan had been “cornered” to move forward with the Games.

Japanese audiences remain divided over hosting the Games, although opposition appears to be waning somewhat. A poll this week by broadcaster TBS showed 55% wanted the Games postponed or canceled – down 10 points from last month.

Sell, a silver medalist swimmer at the 2004 Games in Athens, said the acceleration of vaccinations and the decrease in the number of cases in Japan were positive signs for the Olympics to take place.

“These Games are truly a symbol of the whole world emerging from this terrible global pandemic,” she said.

“If we wanted to be as safe as possible, we would never leave our house. “


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