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Tokyo Olympics Slated to Take Place in July Despite Covid-19

February 3, 2021, 10.51 PM

Could infections rise again?

A potential fourth and even a fifth wave of infections is likely to be smaller than previous waves, although Tateda admits some problems will still need to be overcome before the virus is completely defeated.

"The biggest concern has to be the logistics of delivering and storing a vaccine that has to be kept at very low temperatures to be effective," he said.

Japan may have relatively low infection rates for a nation of 126 million people, but it is the last major industrial country to commence mass vaccinations, and there are fears that the rollout of the drugs will be delayed by a shortage of freezer units.

At present, the government plan calls for medical workers to receive vaccinations first, but that will not happen until the end of February. Health authorities will then need to vaccinate around 850,000 people a day if they wish to meet the target of half the population before the Olympics commence.

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That may not be possible in more remote parts of the country and where overworked medical staff are complaining of exhaustion.

Yet that is what the government and organizers are working toward.

Asked about the Olympics in a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Suga said, "I would like to work towards a safe execution of the games while keeping in mind the domestic and overseas situation of Covid-19 in mind."

Yoshiro Mori, the president of the Japanese organizing committee for the games, was more bullish in his assessment, insisting that the event will go ahead "however the coronavirus evolves."

"We must go beyond the discussion of whether we will hold it or not," Mori told a meeting of government officials and organizers. "It's about how we will do it. Let's think about a new kind of Olympics on this occasion."

Public skepticism

Despite official confidence that the Olympics and Paralympics can go ahead, many Japanese are still skeptical.

A recent poll showed that 80 percent of people believe that the continued spread of the virus and the lack of time for the vaccine to be delivered mean that the Olympics should be either delayed for another year or canceled entirely.

"I do not understand why they want to have the Olympics," said Mari Miyamoto, who works in an office in Tokyo.


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