The relay for the Olympic torch in Tokyo will take another detour this weekend when it enters the southern island of Okinawa.
A stage of the relay on the resort island of Okinawa Miyakoima, set for Sunday, has been canceled entirely with cases being raised in Japan. Other legs of Okinawa will be held.
A 17-day state of emergency took effect on April 25 in some parts of Japan, closing department stores and bars in Tokyo and Osaka’s second-largest metropolis.
“We don’t want people outside the island. Human life is at stake,” Hayako Shimizu, a teacher at Miyakoima, told the Associated Press.
The relay, which will feature 10,000 riders from all over Japan, started six weeks ago and was largely on schedule, despite a major diversion to Osaka and the city of Matsuyama in nearby Ehime Prefecture.
The relay consists of a convoy of about a dozen vehicles with the names of sponsors: Coca-Cola, Toyota Motor Corp. and Nippon Life Insurance Co. a flame to the next runner waiting to hold another torch.
The torch relay – similar to the planning for the postponed Olympics, due to open on July 23 – is fraught with uncertainty, constant change and questions about why it is being held – and how it will take place.
A six-day outdoor diving competition opened on Saturday in Tokyo with 225 competitors from 46 countries – but without fans.
It was not immediately clear where the athletes were staying or under what quarantine conditions, if any, they entered Japan. It is not clear how many employees accompanied the divers.
Associated with the AP, Tokyo organizers said they “understand that athletes enter Japan based on guidelines provided by the JASF (Japanese Swimming Federation) and approved by FINA.”
He forwarded additional inquiries to FINA and local swimming staff.
The world swimming authority FINA has listed one of the divers as former Olympic bronze medalist Tom Daly of Great Britain. But other divers came from different countries, including Mexico, Germany, Canada, Romania, Colombia, Japan, Malaysia, Ukraine and Russia.
Diving is one of several tests this month – all without fans. Organizers say they will decide in June how many fans – if any – will be admitted to the Olympics. Fans from abroad are already banned.
In a briefing Friday, Hidemasa Nakamura, a delivery officer for the Tokyo Olympics, said the focus was on “how safe we can have the Games” and not on whether they should be held in the middle of a pandemic.
Others are less sure about admitting 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes to Japan.
One is Canadian Hailey Wickenheiser, a four-time Olympic gold medalist in ice hockey who has just graduated from medical school.
Wickenheiser is also a member of the IOC Athletes’ Commission and was one of the first a year ago to say the Olympics should be postponed.
“I would love to see the games happen, it would be a great message of hope for the world. But I think we should always remember what we are in the middle of right now, “Wickenheiser said in an interview with Canadian television.
Wickenheiser hinted that she was probably a “black sheep” in Olympic circles, but added, “I don’t really care.”
“I think the IOC wants to continue with the games, no matter what,” Wickenheiser said.
“Part of me wants to believe that this plan is good. But some of me have also seen what has happened since the beginning of the pandemic, and I question some of the motives. There is money, there is power, there is politics. . . . and a lot of it. “
Dr Shigeru Omi, who heads Japan’s government coronavirus response committee, warned the parliamentary committee on Wednesday that the virus was spreading and putting hospitals under stress.
Olympic organizers say they will need about 10,000 medical professionals during the Olympics, and officials recently asked for another 500 nurses.
“Infections are definitely spreading, including in developing countries, so it’s important to fully understand this situation and know that there are definitely risks,” he said.
“It’s time for the (Olympic) organizers and other participants to be responsible and start thinking seriously about how infections spread and how the medical system stretches, and then inform the public.”