Japan Aims To Convince A Wary Public The Olympics Will Be Safe : NPR

Signs are displayed on a screen ahead of an athletics testing event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last month at the National Stadium in Tokyo. Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg via Getty Images Hide caption

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Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg via Getty Images

Signs are displayed on a screen ahead of an athletics testing event for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics last month at the National Stadium in Tokyo.

Kiyoshi Ota / Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Olympic organizers and the Japanese government are increasing vaccinations inside and outside the Olympic village. It remains to be seen whether The push will be the antidote to widespread opposition in Japan to holding the Games amid the pandemic and pervasive fear that the event could endanger public health.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Wednesday that Approximately 75% of aspiring Olympic and Paralympic athletes either got their shots or are supposed to. They predict that by the time the games start in just over six weeks, over 80% will be vaccinated.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said: his goal is to complete the vaccination of all citizens who wish by November. The government had previously targeted February 2022 as the date for the completion of vaccinations. Suga too pledged this week to further reduce the number of Olympic officials, staff and journalists coming to Japan.

Japan’s vaccine rollout is finally picking up speed

While vaccine adoption in Japan is still lagging behind other developed economies, the pace has accelerated in recent days. With mass vaccination pages in Tokyo and Osaka, military medical personnel vaccinated seniors. Japanese Companies establish vaccination programs for employees after receiving the go-ahead from the government this week.

The faster jabs – and the arrival of the first athletes in Japan for pre-game training – could help dampen the anti-Olympic sentiment. That was one possible interpretation of a Yomiuri Shimbun survey Last weekend, the number of respondents calling for the Games to be canceled fell 11 points to 48%, compared to a similar poll last month. The survey found that 50% were in favor of continuing the games.

The Olympics are really happening.  For athletes this means a multitude of rules

However, anger over the government’s insistence on pushing the Games forward remains high enough to put Suga on the defensive this week.

“It is my responsibility to protect the life and health of the citizens,” he told the legislature on Monday. “If we can’t do that, it’s only natural not to hold the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo.”

Suga has insisted that the government take sufficient measures to ensure the safety of athletes and the Japanese people. However, the Yomiuri survey found that most Japanese people are not confident that the measures will be successful.

“I am against the Olympics personally, because of the security issue, of course,” said Junji Momose, who stopped to speak at Tokyo’s busy Shimbashi Station. He worries that, despite the state of emergency in much of the country, Japanese citizens are going out “thinking, ‘It’s okay to go out because the Olympics are going on.”

Some experts are concerned that the security measures are inadequate

Some medical experts have focused on the Olympics Playbook Identify measures to protect athletes and officials. The latest version, released in April, includes a colorful title illustration that shows two judo athletes without a mask.

“The graphics are nicer than any of the information they contain,” comments Lisa Brosseau, a research advisor at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota.

In one recently items In the New England Journal of Medicine, she and her co-authors argue that “the IOC’s determination to continue the Olympics is not based on the best of scientific evidence.”

She argues that the playbooks do not include best practices for conducting sporting events during a pandemic, such as sailing events.

Organizers should consider, “Can you minimize contact? Can you minimize the time? Can you minimize the number of people? Can you add the ventilation, ”she says. “You have to have this kind of thoughtful conversation about the risks and the controls. And I don’t see that in the playbooks at all. ”

Dr. Naoto Ueyama, who heads the Japan Doctors Union, is less concerned about the 15,000 or so athletes than about the tens of thousands of employees who work behind the scenes.

“I am most concerned about the volunteers,” he says. “I read that they only got two masks and a bottle of hand sanitizer to deal with the situation. It’s too terrible. “

Organizers say around 10,000 out of 80,000 Olympic volunteers have already quit, some because of health risks, others because of sexist ones Remarks of the former head of the game organization. The government says they are in view of vaccinate the remaining volunteers.

Ueyama also notes that each sports facility has a medical officer assigned to treat sick athletes or spectators, although it is not yet clear whether spectators will be admitted. But he says some of these doctors have leaving also because they have to work in Japanese hospitals that are flooded with COVID patients.

Japan’s “government does not have the authority to use medical resources for the Olympics,” argues Ueyama, adding, “They do not have enough staff, logistical support and money well.”

Ueyama also finds it hard to believe that anyone can abide by the rules of social distancing when playing the games. He says, “I fear that it will be difficult to completely block communication between athletes.”

For example, the organizers are planning to distribute 160,000 condoms to the athletes, but no face masks that the athletes should bring themselves. organizer emphasize that the distribution of prophylaxis is to raise awareness of safe sex and athletes should take them home with them in the face of the pandemic rather than using them at the Games.

Chie Kobayashi in Tokyo contributed to this report.

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