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HOME  > Past issues  > 2021 January 27 - February 2  > Summer Olympic Games under pandemic conditions should be cancelled in order to focus on fight against COVID-19: JCP
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2021 January 27 - February 2 TOP3 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Summer Olympic Games under pandemic conditions should be cancelled in order to focus on fight against COVID-19: JCP

February 1, 2021

The Japanese Communist Party on January 21 proposed that Japan give up on holding the Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in order to focus on efforts to put an end to the coronavirus pandemic which shows no sign of ending anytime soon.

In many opinion polls carried out recently, more than 80% of respondents stated that the Summer Games be “postponed again” or be “cancelled” while only 10% said that the Games should be “held as scheduled”.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) on January 27 made public that a total of only 61% of entry places were confirmed. Amid the current global health emergency, some countries and regions are finding it difficult to provide qualifying opportunities to athletes. In addition, there was a news report that athletes who failed to be qualified for Tokyo 2020 may file complaints with the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Under these circumstances, the Olympic principles of being fair to athletes and putting athletes first are in jeopardy.

Even in Japan, Olympic qualifiers in a questionnaire survey (the Asahi Shimbun on January 24) voiced concerns such as: “I don’t think that the Olympics this summer will be a competition among the best athletes”; “I can’t conduct training as much as I'd like to due to the pandemic”; and “I can’t find appropriate training partners in Japan.”

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide insists on holding the Summer Games as “a testament to human victory over the coronavirus”. The Suga government should fundamentally reconsider whether the holding of the Olympic Games this summer is appropriate and begin negotiating options with the Tokyo government, the Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee, and the IOC.

As of January 28, 56 countries launched their coronavirus vaccination campaigns. The coronavirus vaccines will hopefully help to achieve population immunity.

The IOC and the Japanese government pin their hopes for the holding of the Summer Games on vaccines. However, the chief scientist of the World Health Organization (WHO), Soumya Swaminathan on January 11 said that the world will not be able to achieve herd immunity against the novel coronavirus. It is said that in order to develop herd immunity, it is necessary for at least 70% of the people across the glove to receive vaccinations. The WHO chief scientist explained, “Even if it happens in a couple of pockets, in a few countries, it’s not going to protect people across the world.”

Some IOC members have demanded that Olympic athletes be given priority access to COVID-19 vaccines. Refuting this call, the WHO on January 25 issued a statement that the current vaccine supplies cannot even cover at-risk people.

The Suga government on January 26 announced that it will recruit 10,000 medical workers for the virus-delayed Olympics as planned. However, considering that frontline healthcare workers in Japan are already overwhelmed by the ongoing pandemic, the implementation of this plan is almost impossible. The Tokyo Olympics will bring more than 10,000 foreign athletes to Japan. In addition, roughly one million tickets have already been sold worldwide.

Japan Medical Association President Nakagawa Toshio on January 22 said that given the current situation, Japan’s medical system has no capacity to cooperate in providing medical services to a huge number of foreign visitors, including athletes, during the Olympics.

Dr. Kuramochi Jin, who runs the Kuramochi Clinic Interpark in Utsunomiya City in Tochigi Prefecture, pointed out, “Hospitals are overwhelmed dealing with the pandemic. In addition, more and more people infected with the coronavirus are left unable to get medical attention and be hospitalized. The number of COVID patients who die at home has increased. Furthermore, among patients with fevers, only 20% can see a doctor although their fever is not caused by the coronavirus infection.” He also pointed out, “It is said that 10,000 medical workers will be needed for the virus-postponed Olympics. How can such a huge number of medical personnel be recruited? I can only say that to hold the Olympics this summer is unrealistic and irresponsible.”

Past related article:
> Shii in Diet interpellation: Gov’t should devote its attention to end pandemic and give up on holding Summer Olympics [January 22, 2021]
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