Sport, Japan Covid: 100 Days Until Tokyo Games 2021 But Japan Has Vaccinated Less Than 1% Of İts Populatio

Sport, Japan Covid: 100 Days Until Tokyo Games 2021 But Japan Has Vaccinated Less Than 1% Of İts Populatio

With 100 days until the Tokyo Olympics, Japan has vaccinated less than 1% of its population. That's a problem

With 100 days to go until the Games, already postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, questions remain over how Tokyo can hold a massive sporting event and keep volunteers, athletes, officials -- and the Japanese public -- safe from Covid-19.

4/14/2021 10:30:00 AM

With 100 days to go until the Games, already postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, questions remain over how Tokyo can hold a massive sporting event and keep volunteers, athletes, officials -- and the Japanese public -- safe from Covid-19.

With 100 days to go until the Games, already postponed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, questions remain over how Tokyo can hold a massive sporting event and keep volunteers, athletes, officials -- and the Japanese public -- safe from Covid-19.

They'll be given a small bottle of hand sanitizer and two masks each."They don't talk about vaccines, they don't even talk about us being tested," said German volunteer Barbara Holthus, who is director of Sophia University's German Institute for Japanese Studies, in Tokyo.That concern has been amplified by Japan's battle with a looming fourth wave. The country passed 500,000 total coronavirus cases on Saturday, and some prefectures are again tightening their Covid-19 restrictions as daily infections grow. Hideaki Oka, a professor at Saitama Medical University, said Japan may not be able to contain the latest wave before the Games begin on July 23.Read MoreWhile Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reiterated Monday his pledge to secure 100 million vaccine doses by the end of June, so far Japan has only vaccinated about 1.1 million of its 126 million people -- less than 1% of the population. Only 0.4% have received two doses. Holthus said supporting the Games was meant to be a"once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity."But now it's just a really dangerous experience," she said.In a statement to CNN, Tokyo 2020 organizers said they were preparing to hold"a safe and secure Games without presuming there will be a vaccine and even without vaccines." "On the other hand, we hope that vaccines will be properly administered at home and abroad and that the infection will, therefore, be reduced as a whole," the statement said.A man wearing a protective mask to help curb the spread of the coronavirus walks near advertisement for Tokyo 2020 Olympics at an underpass Tuesday, April 6, in Tokyo.Slow vaccine rolloutWith a $25 billion Olympics to host, arguably no country in Asia had more incentive than Japan to get its Covid-19 cases under control and vaccinate its population.Yet Japanese regulators were slow to approve Covid-19 vaccines, compared to other governments, taking more than two months to allow the use of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Its rollout did not begin until February, and senior citizens only began to receive their doses on April 12, according to Kyodo News. Experts said part of the delay was due to official caution designed to avoid the vaccine skepticism that has damaged previous vaccination efforts in Japan. Either way, that approach has left Japan lagging other Asian nations, such as China, which has administered 171 million vaccinations, and India, which has given out 108 million doses. "They say elderly citizens are supposed to have a vaccination by June, but in reality, even medical staff who is treating Covid hasn't got vaccinated yet," said Oka from Saitama Medical University, adding he didn't believe the June vaccination target would be met.Oka said the government should prioritize vaccinating all athletes entering the country for the Games, but the Japanese government has resisted this approach, after media reports that Olympians would be prioritized sparked a social media backlash in Japan.Osaka takes Olympic torch relay off public roads as it declares state of emergency amid Covid-19 surgeBeijing had offered to provide vaccines for all athletes in the 2020 Olympics but Tokyo turned down the offer, saying no Chinese-made options were yet authorized for use in Japan.International spectators have been banned from the Games to try to lower the risk of Covid-19 spreading at the event. But more than 11,000 athletes from over 200 countries are expected to participate.Without plans to vaccinate athletes, the tens of thousands of volunteers taking part stand little chance of protection. Holthus said Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko told volunteers during a Zoom call she was relying"on your smile" to make the Olympics a success -- a particularly jarring claim because they would all be wearing masks. "(We were told) 'Your smile is going to make the Olympics exist' and you wonder, are you kidding me?" said Holthus, who is scheduled to volunteer as a ticket collector.One volunteer, who attended an 80-minute lecture on infectious disease control for Games volunteers, said a top Japanese expert in infectious diseases told them they shouldn't count on being vaccinated ahead of the event."(He said) unless you are elderly there won't be enough time for ordinary people to get vaccinated," said the volunteer, who asked to remain anonymous to avoid being excluded from her role in the Olympics. She said she felt angry and scared after the presentation. The volunteer, who had taken part in previous Olympics, said she was considering dropping out unless all volunteers were vaccinated."Not doing so is showing reckless disregard for our lives, and the optimal safe environment that Japan as a host country is obligated to provide," she said. 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