The IOC vice president in charge of the postponed Olympics in Tokyo said on Friday that the games would open in just over two months, even if the city and other parts of Japan were in a state of emergency due to the growing cases of COVID-19.
Speaking from Australia at a virtual press conference with Tokyo organizers at the end of the three-day meetings, John Coates said that would be the case even if local medical experts advised against holding the Olympics.
“The advice we have from the WHO (World Health Organization) and all the other scientific and media advice we have is that – all the measures we have outlined, all these measures we are taking are satisfactory and will ensure safe and secure games. in terms of health, “Coates said.
“And that’s the way it is, whether there’s a state of emergency or not.”
Public opinion is that Japan is fighting 60-80% against the opening of the Olympics on July 23, depending on how the issue is formulated. Coates suggested that public opinion could improve as more Japanese were fully vaccinated. This figure is now about 2%.
“If that doesn’t happen, our position is that we need to make sure we continue our work,” Coates said. – And our job is to ensure that these games are safe for all participants and for all the people of Japan. “
IOC officials say they expect more than 80 percent of the residents of the Olympic Village in Tokyo Bay to be vaccinated and largely cut off from public contact. About 11,000 Olympic and 4,400 Paralympic athletes are expected to attend.
Coates said about 80% of the Olympic venues will be awarded by qualifying events, with 20% coming from the rankings. Coates left no doubt that the Swiss-based International Olympic Committee believes the Tokyo Games will take place.
The IOC receives almost 75% of its revenue from the sale of broadcasting rights, a key driver in insisting. And Tokyo has officially spent $ 15.4 billion to host the Olympics, although government audits show that the real number is much higher.
Tokyo, Osaka and several other prefectures are currently in a state of emergency and healthcare systems have been expanded. The emergency measures are due to end on May 31, but are likely to be extended.
“If the current situation continues, I hope the government will have the wisdom not to end the state of emergency at the end of May,” Haruo Ozaki, head of the Tokyo Medical Association, told the weekly Aera magazine.
Ozaki has consistently argued that government measures to control the spread of COVID-19 are insufficient. About 12,000 deaths in Japan have been attributed to the virus, and the situation is deteriorating because so few in Japan have been fully vaccinated.
Ozaki warned that if the emergency conditions were not extended, the virus and contagious variants would spread quickly. “If that happens, there will be a big outbreak and it is possible that the games will be hopeless,” he added.
Ozaki is not alone with these warnings. The Tokyo Medical Association of 6,000 members called for the cancellation of the Olympics in a letter sent last week to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa and Seiko Hashimoto, head of the organizing committee.
“We believe the right choice is to cancel an event that has the potential to increase the number of infected people and deaths,” the letter said.
Hashimoto turned to the concern of ordinary Japanese. “Currently, there are many people who feel worried about the fact that the games will be held where many people come from abroad,” she said.
“There are other people who are concerned about the possible burden on Japan’s medical system.”
She said the number of “stakeholders” coming to Japan from abroad had been reduced from 180,000 to about 80,000. She said the Olympic “stakeholders” would be 59,000, of whom 23,000 were Olympic families and international federations. She said the added 17,000 would include TV rights holders with another 6,000 media outlets.
She also said 230 doctors and 310 nurses would be needed daily, and said about 30 hospitals in Tokyo and beyond were involved in caring for Olympic patients. Earlier, organizers said 10,000 medical workers would be needed for the Olympics.
Hashimoto said nurses could be called and retired. Separately, the IOC said it would provide an unspecified number of medical staff from unnamed national Olympic committees.
Fans from abroad were banned months ago. Hashimoto said the number of spectators – if any – at the venues would “depend on the spread of the infection”.
She promised a decision on the capacity of the venue next month. Kaori Yamaguchi, a bronze medalist in judo at the 1988 Seoul Olympics and a member of the Japan Olympic Committee, hinted in an interview with Kyodo this week that the organizers were on the corner. She was skeptical of progress.
“We’re starting to reach a point where we can’t even give up anymore,” she said.
The IOC’s oldest member, Richard Pound, told Japan’s JiJi Press that the deadline for ending the Olympics was still a month away.
“Before the end of June, you really need to know, yes or no,” GG Pound was quoted as saying. Pound reiterated, as the IOC said, that if the games could not happen now, they would be canceled, not postponed again.
IOC President Thomas Bach now plans to arrive in Tokyo on July 12th. He was forced to cancel a trip to Japan this month due to growing cases of COVID-19.