This summer’s delayed Olympic Games will progress as planned despite host city Tokyo currently being in the a state of emergency and significant opposition from the Japanese public, says the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
With Japan reporting a seven-day average of almost 5,500 cases of Covid-19 – a figure far in advance of the figure which led to last summer’s postponement – serious questions have been raised in recent weeks about the efficacy of holding the event in the Japanese capital, which remains one of the nine prefectures in the country which has declared a state of emergency until at least May 31.
Recent polls have indicated that as many as 80 percent of the Japanese public are opposed to the Olympics proceeding on July 23. But the IOC is standing firm and says it won’t consider a second postponement, or even cancelation of the Games.
“We’ve successfully seen five sports hold their test events during the state of emergency,” said IOC vice-president John Coates.
“All of the plans that we have in place to protect the safety and security of athletes and the people of Japan are based around the worst possible circumstances, so the answer [if the Olympics can proceed in a state of emergency] is absolutely yes.
“The advice we have got from the World Health Organisation and all of the scientific advice is that all the measures we have outlined in the playbook, all those measures are satisfactory to ensure a safe and secure Games in terms of health, and that’s whether there is a state of emergency or not.“
Referencing the spate of public opposition to holding the event against the collective will of the Japanese public, Coates said that the increase in vaccinations between now and July will go a long way to putting the public’s mind at ease.
“There may well be a correlation between some of these percentages and the low percentages so far of people in Japan who have been vaccinated,” Coates surmized.
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“I’m expecting that, as the number of vaccinations increase, there will be better polls and public opinion will improve.
“But if it doesn’t, we just have to make sure that we get on with our job and our job is make sure these Games are safe for all participants and all of the people of Japan.”
Japan is understood to have orchestrated a drive to ensure that elderly people are delivered access to the various Covid-19 vaccines first, but current estimates suggest that only five percent of the country’s more than 35 million elderly people have received a first dose as of yet – leaving very little time for the vaccination drive to be brought to an acceptable level before July 23.
Judging by the latest comments from the IOC, a cancelation of further postponement of the Olympics would be a decision taken out of its hands – perhaps instituted as a safety measure on behalf of Japanese government.
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