By Joe Apu
The International Olympic Committee has finally laid to rest speculations of a postponement or outright cancellation of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games stating that the Games can go ahead even if the host city is under a state of emergency because of the coronavirus according to reports monitored online.
“All the measures we are undertaking will ensure a safe Games regardless of whether there is a state of emergency or not,” John Coates, an IOC vice-president who is in charge of preparations, told reporters after a virtual meeting with organisers on Friday.
“Provided that we can protect the Japanese public, the most important thing is giving athletes a chance to compete.”
The IOC and Tokyo 2020 organisers have insisted the Games will go ahead, despite widespread public opposition in Japan and warnings from health experts that the arrival of tens of thousands of athletes, officials, journalists and support staff this summer risked spreading Covid-19.
Japanese doctors and medical workers have called for the Games to be cancelled to relieve pressure on overwhelmed health services, while a recent poll found that 83% of the public want the event to be either called off or postponed for a second time.
While most athletes are expected to be fully vaccinated by the time the Games open in two months’ time, only 4.1% of Japan’s population has received at least one jab – the lowest rate of any advanced economy – and only 30% of medical workers in Tokyo are fully protected, the Nikkei business newspaper said.
Seiko Hashimoto, the president of Tokyo 2020, said up to 230 doctors and 310 nurses would be needed each day during the Olympics and the Paralympics. The number of officials, journalists and other Games-related staff due to arrive in Tokyo has been cut from 180,000 to 78,000, she added.
“I can say it’s now clearer than ever that these Games would be safe for everyone participating and, importantly, safe for the people of Japan,” Coates said, adding that the IOC was working with organisers to send medical personnel to Tokyo. “After eight years of hard work and planning, the finish line is within touching distance.”