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Tokyo Olympics 2021: Japan to choose games over people’s health

Tokyo Olympics 2021 is 3 months away while Japan is set to get its new COVID-19 peak soon.


On Friday, Japan announced a new virus state of emergency in Tokyo and three other regions. The state of emergency in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyogo has been announced due to the sudden surge in cases in the regions. The lockdown to contain the virus was imperative, not only because of the safety of the residents but also to ensure a safe and controversy-free Tokyo Olympics 2021 to be held in 3 months.

“Today we decided to declare a state of emergency in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, and Hyogo prefectures,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced, citing the rise of infections involving new virus variants. The restrictions will run from April 25 to May 11. There has been a rapid surge in coronavirus cases in Japan and especially Tokyo. The daily covid-19 cases have been the highest in 4 months. It has become clear that Japan is facing a second wave of COVID-19.

 Tokyo Olympics 2021
Image courtesy: toyokeizai.net

Like India, the second wave of COVID-19 in Japan is spreading much faster. Last time around Japan’s covid cases per day went from around 1000 to 5000 in about 2 months. There was an average of 1000 cases during the first week of November and the number reached 5000 in the first week of January. But this time around the same increase happened in just over 1 month. The increase has been slower than India’s increase but it is still concerning as experts believe that Japan will surely surpass its earlier peak.

Earlier this week, Suga insisted the emergency measures would not affect preparations for the Tokyo Olympics 2021. But the virus has already started to cause disruptions o test events, qualifiers, and the torch relay. The torch relay was moved off public roads in Osaka and the city of Matsuyama as those areas battle a resurgence in infections. “Tokyo 2020 will continue to work closely with Okinawa prefecture and the local task forces in all other prefectures due to host Olympic Torch Relay segments in order to ensure that these events will be safe and secure for all local communities,” the organizing committee said in a statement.

Tokyo Olympics 2021
Image Source- Unsplash

The decision to not postpone the Tokyo Olympics 2021 is being heavily criticized by everyone. On Friday, Australia’s diving team withdrew from the Diving World Cup, scheduled for 1-6 May in Tokyo, saying it was “not safe” to travel to Japan. Even the Tokyo Motor Show was canceled for the first time in its history, with organizers citing Covid-19 concerns. The biennial event was due to take place in the autumn, several weeks after the Games. All this shows the concerns of the people around COVID-19 but the government of Japan is still adamant about holding the biggest games.

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The Japanese public is firmly opposed to holding the Games this summer, according to a recent poll by the Kyodo news agency, in which a combined 72% of respondents said they should either be canceled or postponed again. “I’m for (the Olympics) in the sense that we need to keep the economy going,” 48-year-old Koji Yokoi told AFP in Tokyo. “But when I see elderly people hospitalized on TV, I say to myself, ‘This is not possible’.”

The public is concerned that the Tokyo Olympics 2021 will bring foreigners from all over the world who may be carrying different variants of the virus. It is time the Japanese government should listen to the pleas of the public and at least postpone it for now. And converge all its focus on tackling the second wave which is set to shake the nation in the coming days. Even the vaccination program going on in Japan has been very slow. In the two months since the start of the vaccination drive, only 772,703 people have been fully vaccinated. That number is roughly about 0.7 percent of the total population.

 Tokyo Olympics 2021
Image Courtesy: Ourworldindata.org

Authorities in Osaka have said health facilities there are already overwhelmed and beds for seriously ill patients are running short. The Yoshihide Suga-led government at this point of time should focus on preparing for the surge in virus and ramping up the vaccination drive. Instead of hosting an event for which people will fly from all over the world, the government should hold tighter lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus that has been taking lives for more than a year now. Japan did relatively well during the first peak and it should do the same not taking into account the wellbeing of the people who live there. This is not the time to appease the international community but to take care of your population.

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