Story at a glance

  • Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto has said the event will move forward despite warnings from the medical community that the delayed summer games could pose an imminent public health risk.
  • The committee president’s resolute posture conflicted with a fresh warning from Shigeru Omi, the head of an expert panel advising the Japanese government on COVID-19 risks at the Olympic games.
  • “It is only when there is a clear reason to host the Games that the public will get on board,” Omi said.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto has said the event will move forward despite warnings from the medical community that the delayed summer games could pose an imminent public health risk, including the possibility of creating a new COVID-19 variant. 

Hashimoto said in an interview published Thursday in the Nikkan Sports newspaper that the committee "cannot postpone again."

The committee president’s resolute posture conflicted with a fresh warning from Shigeru Omi, the head of an expert panel advising the Japanese government on COVID-19 risks at the Olympic games, who declared that "it’s not normal to have the Olympics in a situation like this."

“If we are going to hold the Games under these circumstances … then I think it’s the Olympic organizers’ responsibility to downsize the scale of the event and strengthen coronavirus control measures as much as possible,” Omi said. 

“It is only when there is a clear reason to host the Games that the public will get on board…it’s very important for those involved in the Olympics to clarify their vision and the reason for hosting the Games,” he added. 


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Public broadcaster NHK reported that amid the public skepticism, 10,000 of 80,000 volunteers have already quit, according to The Guardian. But organizers argue the dropouts will not have a drastic effect on the games as there will be no spectators. 

“There’s no mistake that concerns over the coronavirus could have been a factor,” as well as scheduling conflicts due to last year’s postponement, Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto said, The Guardian reported. 

The head of the Japan Doctors Union, Naoto Ueyama, warned last week that holding the games during a global pandemic could lead to the emergence of an “Olympic strain of the virus” that could lead to years of scrutiny over the decision to hold the games.  

“We cannot deny the possibility of even a new strain of the virus potentially emerging," Ueyama said at a press conference, according to Reuters. "If such a situation were to arise, it could even mean a Tokyo Olympic strain of the virus being named in this way, which would be a huge tragedy and something which would be the target of criticism, even for 100 years."


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Japan reported more than 3,000 new COVID-19 cases and 113 deaths in the past day, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. Approximately 3 percent of the Japanese population has been fully vaccinated and nearly 15 million vaccine doses administered. 


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Published on Jun 03, 2021