With the Games less than three months out, Tokyo Olympics organizers just received the strongest call to cancel the games last week amid a COVID-19 spike in Japan.
The Tokyo Medical Practitioners’ Association, a 6,000-member body, sent a letter to Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike and organizing committee head Seiko Hashimoto urging them to call off the games over safety concerns related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We believe the correct choice is to the cancel an event that has the possibility of increasing the numbers of infected people and deaths,” the letter said, via The Associated Press.
“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.”
The Olympics, which were already postponed a year due to the pandemic, are currently set to start on July 23 in Tokyo.
A significant portion of the country, including Tokyo and Osaka, is under another state of emergency, which was extended through the end of the month amid a fourth surge of the virus. That lockdown caused IOC president Thomas Bach to cancel his visit to Japan earlier this month, too.
The country has had nearly 700,000 confirmed cases and more than 11,600 confirmed deaths since the pandemic began, according to The New York Times. Only about 2% of the country is vaccinated, and there is significant growing opposition to the games among Japanese citizens. According to The Associated Press, between 60%-80% of citizens are against the Games.
The TMPA warned Suga and organizers that the Games could result in a collapse of Japan’s medical system.
“Our nation is now undergoing a surge in coronavirus patients in a fourth wave, the worst so far,” the letter said, via The Associated Press. “The medical systems responding to COVID-19 are stretched thin, almost to their limits.
“The reality is that the entire medical system faces an almost insurmountable hardship in trying our best to respond with coronavirus measures … The doctors and nurses of the medical system who are being asked to respond are already at this point exhausted, and there is absolutely no extra manpower or facility for treatment.”
IOC committed to Olympics
While it seems that more and more people — including athletes from across the world — are coming out against the Games, the IOC is still pushing full steam ahead.
With such little time between now and the opening ceremonies, and the billions of dollars spent on the Games, it’s easy to see why.
“Our experts are satisfied that it can be done,” IOC member Dick Pound told Yahoo Sports. “We can do this, and we should do it.”
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