A top medical organization has thrown its weight behind calls to cancel the Tokyo Olympics saying hospitals are already overwhelmed as the country battles a spike in coronavirus infections less than three months from the start of the Games. The Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association representing about 6,000 primary care doctors said hospitals in the Games host city “have their hands full and have almost no spare capacity” amid a surge in infections.
“We strongly request that the authorities convince the IOC [International Olympic Committee] that holding the Olympics is difficult and acquire the decision to cancel the Games,”
the association said in a May 14 open letter to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.
A jump in infections is very alarming due to shortage of medical staff and hospital beds in certain areas of the Japanese capital, supporting the government to extend a third state of emergency in Tokyo until May 31.Doctors would soon face the added difficulty of dealing with heat exhaustion patients during the summer months and if the Olympics contributed to a rise in deaths. “Japan will bear the maximum responsibility”, it added.
An online petition calling for the Olympics to be cancelled was signed by hundreds of thousands of people. Overall, Japan has avoided a wide spread of the virus experienced by other countries, but the government has come under sharp criticism for its sluggish vaccination roll-out. Only 3.5% Japan’s population has been vaccinated.
Suga says Japan can host “a safe and secure Olympics” while following appropriate COVID-19 containment measures.
Preparations for the July 23-August 8 Games are progressing under tight COVID-19 protocols, such as an athletics test event featuring 420 athletes in early May.
Tokyo 2020 organizers said Tuesday that nearly double the required number of certified sports medics had applied to volunteer at competition venues and in the athletes’ village.
Controversy had previously surrounded the organizers’ request for the services of 500 nurses, which sparked accusations of diverting crucial medical resources.
More than 80 percent of people in Japan want the Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled or postponed again, according to the latest poll by the Asahi Shimbun daily.
At a shooting test event on Tuesday, top Games official Yasuo Mori said the knowledge gained at such rehearsals would be used to update virus rulebooks for athletes and other participants.
“Throughout the test events, only a few people tested positive for the virus, and we were able to go through procedures at the airport smoothly,” he said. “However… there were a relatively smaller number of people than will be at the Olympics, so we will have to discuss how we manage the Olympics in the summer.”
But multiple pre-Olympic training camps, including one for the United States’ track and field team have been cancelled, and athletes have voiced concerns about the Games taking place in the midst of a global pandemic.
Canadian equestrian athlete and gold medalist Eric Lamaze announced on Monday that he had pulled out of being an Olympic candidate, citing personal health concerns. He has been treated for a brain tumor over the past three years.
“My health is something that I take very seriously, and I’ve decided that Tokyo is not the best venue for me,” Lamaze said in the statement.
“The Olympics are a celebration of the athletes and I don’t think we’re going to have a true celebration in Tokyo,” he added. “It’s not the time to celebrate.”
The Games have already been postponed once due to the pandemic. With cases drastically spreading across Asia, the World Economic Forum on Monday canceled its yearly meeting of the global elite due to be held in Singapore in August.
Under the highly sensitive situation in parts of Japan, bars, eateries, karaoke parlors, and different spots serving liquor will stay shut, although large commercial facilities can re-open under more limited hours. Hard-hit Tokyo and Osaka will continue to keep their offices closed