On Friday, a Japanese Olympic Committee board member blasted the organisers of the Tokyo Games for ignoring public concerns about holding the global sporting showpiece during a pandemic, as new steps to reduce the risk were urged by Japan’s top medical adviser.
The JOC’s Kaori Yamaguchi opined through Japan’s Kyodo news agency, that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) believed that it could steamroll over the wishes of the Japanese public. The public, as studied through surveys, want the games to get cancelled or postponed.
A scaled-down version of the Games, which has been postponed since last year, owing to the pandemic, is set to start on July 23, with no foreign spectators. The public fear, that this event could drain medical resources and spread the coronavirus as Japan battles the fourth wave of infections.
Shigeru Omi said to the parliament, on Friday, that the greatest risk from the Games would be the increase in the movement of the general public which has been proven to contribute to the past rise in cases. Shigeru Omi is the Government’s top medical adviser.
In this same regard, Omi said, “People have had enough of the ‘stay home’ request … Unless (the government) comes up with something new in this critical phase it’s going to be impossible.”
The JOC’s Yamaguchi who is a former Olympic medallist in judo, accused the Japanese government, the Tokyo 2020 organising committee and the IOC of “avoiding dialogue” and said the IOC “seems to think that public opinion in Japan is not important.”
“I believe we have already missed the opportunity to cancel … We have been cornered into a situation where we cannot even stop now. We are damned if we do, and damned if we do not.”
Comments from the IOC official have started which has sparked outrage in Japan. IOC Vice President John Coates was one of them who commented and said that the Olympics would be held even under a state of emergencies such as is currently in place in Tokyo and other regions.
“HOPE AND COURAGE”
Despite the slow vaccine rollout and the rising number of covid cases in the land, which is also straining the medical system, the Japan Government believes that the Games can go ahead safely.
Yoshihide Suga, the Prime Minister, who is to face a general election and a ruling party leadership race this year, is pulling off the Games with a round-about budget of $15.4 billion, which seems to be vital to retain his post.
Omi, the medical adviser, issued his strongest warning on what he signifies as a lack of discussion within the government and organising committee, over how to control the movement of people if the Games go ahead.
He also expressed with frustration that his guidance, nor that of the public was reaching the IOC. On Friday, he said that a statement is being planned to be sent by the medical experts when the current state of emergency is set will be lifted, on June 20th.
“We are now considering where we should give our advice,” Omi told lawmakers. “If they want to hold (the Games), it’s our job to tell them what the risks are.”
The Prime Minister, to his voters who were dissatisfied with the response to the pandemic, said that hosting a “safe and secure” Games would “bring hope and courage to the world”.
“Vaccinations are proceeding faster than expected, and if infections decrease sharply, the medical system will get relief and restrictions on ordinary people can be relaxed gradually, “Ruling Liberal Democratic Party senior lawmaker Masahiko Shibayama told reporters. “If the Olympics are held that way, I think understanding will grow.”
If the government succeeds in its aim of vaccinating all its health workers and its seniors by the end of July, that is after the games begin, it would still have inoculated only 33% of its population.
There are around 750,000 cases in Japan and has witnessed more than 13000 covid related deaths.