Image source: The Tokyo Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games
With much of Japan still under a state of emergency due to a spike in COVID-19 infections, a group representing 6,000 physicians in Tokyo has called for the cancellation of the upcoming Summer Olympics.
In an open letter to Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association wrote that hospitals “have their hands full” and almost no capacity left to handle a potential outbreak triggered by the international sporting event.
“Viruses are spread by people’s movements. Japan will hold a heavily responsibility if the Olympics and Paralympics work to worsen the pandemic, increasing the number of those who must suffer and die,” the letter said.
The association wants Japanese officials to urge the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to cancel the games. The 2020 Olympics, already postponed by a year due to the pandemic, are set to open on July 23.
Prime Minister Suga has insisted the games, which will be held without foreign spectators, will go on as planned.
Recent polling in Japan has shown that between 60% to 80% oppose holding the Olympics and want it canceled altogether.
Earlier this month, an online petition calling for the cancellation of the Games garnered 350,000 signatures in nine days, while the chief executive officer of Japanese e-commerce company Rakuten called plans to host the Olympics a “suicide mission.”
Amid growing opposition, the IOC is trying to reassure the public and athletes coming to Japan that the event will be “safe and secure.”
On Wednesday, IOC president Thomas Bach said his organization has offered to provide additional medical personnel to help pull off strict safety measures alongside the government. He also added that the IOC anticipates more than 80% of those staying in Olympic Village would be vaccinated.
Since the onset of the pandemic, Japan has recorded 694,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and nearly 12,000 virus-related fatalities. Less than 2% of the population is fully vaccinated, according to The New York Times.
Source: Equities News