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The Tokyo Olympics in difficulty before their start

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It doesn’t take a lot of careful thought to conclude that it’s too risky for public health to host the world’s biggest sporting event in Japan as COVID-19 cases rise there. Infectious disease experts warned of this in April. They cited Japan’s inability to control the increase in COVID-19 cases, including limited testing capacity and slow vaccine deployment.

The conclusion of an April comment in the British Medical Journal: “Holding Tokyo 2020 for national political and economic purposes – ignoring scientific and moral imperatives – is at odds with Japan’s commitment to global health and human security. “

In the United States, we have come to expect anti-science and immoral behavior from a significant portion of the population. We have seen government leaders repeatedly prioritize politics and money over public health. Here, Bach’s absurd claim of “zero risk” would add to the pile of hypocritical statements by sports officials as the games unfold.

They take these things more seriously in Japan. It is one of many developed countries that fared much better than the United States during the pandemic. Now that the number of cases is on the rise, its citizens don’t want a big-ticket event to make matters worse. Olympic organizers keep repeating their “safe and secure” mantra, but people don’t buy it.

The AP reported that Bach met dozens of protesters during his visit to Hiroshima on Friday. (Among their signs: “Cancel the Olympics” and “No Bach.”) According to Reuters, 68% of those polled in a poll in the Asahi newspaper expressed doubts about the ability of organizers to control infections coronavirus, and 55% said they were against The Games Going On.

According to the World Health Organization, Japan has recorded around 844,000 cases of coronavirus and 15,000 deaths among its population of around 160 million people. Japanese citizens regularly worsen their masks in public before the pandemic. The government has controlled the virus by focusing on finding contracts and encouraging the public to avoid the so-called three Cs – closed spaces, crowded places and close contact.

Today, Japan’s mostly unvaccinated population welcomes thousands of visitors from around the world as cases increase. For 31 consecutive days, COVID-19 cases reported by government officials exceeded the number on the same day the previous week. Japan’s NKH news agency reported 1,387 cases in Tokyo on Tuesday.

Seiko Hashimoto, a former Olympic athlete who is chair of the Tokyo committee, said: “I really want to apologize from the bottom of my heart for the build-up of frustrations and concerns the public is feeling about the Olympics. . “

Some Japanese sponsors have become nervous about being associated with the Games. Reuters reported that Panasonic, the main sponsor of the opening ceremony, has said it will skip the event with Fujitsu and other companies. Toyota has stopped airing television commercials related to the Olympics.

Chances are, the Games officially start on Friday. They just won’t be as fun as the previous Olympics. This is not possible without spectators, who are excluded from all events in Tokyo and most other parts of the country.

Authorities ruled out fans from other countries in April. A month ago, organizers said that Japanese fans would be allowed to attend events with a 50% capacity at venues and a limit of 10,000. These spectators should be banned from cheering or even speaking loudly. .

As much as I would rather see Olympic venues full of fans when there is no pandemic, I admit I was intrigued by the idea of ​​half-empty stadiums of people silently watching the events of a sporting event. international. It would be a scary and disturbing sight. It would have highlighted the pride of the world trying to continue as usual during a pandemic that has not finished with the world.

I am sure I will watch a lot of the Olympics even if no spectators will attend the events. The Games can be a drain on money, but I always hope they live up to their values ​​of excellence, friendship and respect. Hearing those triumphant trumpets from “Olympic Fanfare and Theme” by legendary composer John Williams always stirs something in me.

I would probably feel different if I lived in Japan, saw the increase in COVID-19 cases there, and heard the IOC chief tell me there was “no risk” of it spreading . It is no wonder that so many Japanese do not want these Games to continue.


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