Japanese doctors’ association calls for Tokyo Olympics to be cancelled
Tuesday, 18 May 2021
A Japanese doctors’ association called for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics on Tuesday, saying they could further worsen the already precarious health situation in the country.
Japan is currently battling a fourth wave of coronavirus infections.
“We believe that cancelling an event that has the potential to increase the number of infections and deaths is the right choice,” the association of nearly 6,000 medical practitioners said in a statement on its website.
Noting that reserving hospital beds for athletes was not in line with the Olympic Charter, they “strongly” called for the Japanese government, the city of Tokyo and the Games organisers to ask the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to cancel the event.
Last week, a union of Japanese hospital doctors had already deemed it “impossible” to organise the Games safely “at a time when people around the world are battling the new coronavirus.”
With 66 days to go before the event, scheduled for 23 July to 8 August after it was postponed last year because of the pandemic, the Japanese public is overwhelmingly in favour of a further postponement or cancellation, according to all polls.
But the organisers keep repeating that strict anti-virus measures and a ban on spectators from abroad will allow the Games to be held “in complete safety.”
The Tokyo-2020 organising committee announced on Tuesday that it had received 395 applications from sports doctors volunteering to help, which is twice the number it had hoped for.
Tokyo-2020 confirmed at the end of April that it had also requested the services of 500 Japanese nurses for the event, an initiative that had provoked strong criticism in Japan.
Relatively spared by the pandemic compared to other countries, with some 11,500 deaths officially recorded since the beginning of 2020, Japan is nevertheless suffering from a surge in cases of Covid-19, which last week forced the authorities to extend the state of emergency in place over part of the country until 31 May.
The government is also being criticised for the slow pace of its vaccination programme, with just over 1% of the national population having received the two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the only one authorised in the country to date.