The governors of nine prefectures in Japan believe that if this rise in coronavirus cases cannot be controlled, the Tokyo Olympics should be delayed again or cancelled outright.
In the interview with the governors of all 47 prefectures in Japan, 9 local leaders said that scrapping the matches should be an option if there is no guarantee of the safety of athletes, spectators and the public.Three of them – Saitama, Shizuoka and Yamanashi – are in the vicinity of Tokyo. They are also scheduled for soccer and cycling events.
Most other governors hoped the government and organizers could apply adequate precautions to ensure the Games could be conducted safely. There is growing concern with just over 11 Weeks before the opening ceremony that time is gone to draw up plans to minimize and implement the spread of the virus.
The continued spread of the disease stimulates those fears. On Monday (May 3), the organizers of this Olympic Torch Relay confirmed that six other participants in the event, which brought the total to eight, tested positive for the virus in Kagoshima in Southern Japan.
In Tokyo on Monday, there were708 new cases, up from 283 in the previous week, compared with the average of seven days in the previous week, at 873.6, which was almost 20% higher than in the previous seven days.The majority of new infections were found in people in their 20s, and health experts are warning that the majority of new cases are of the highly infectious B.1.1.7 strain of the disease, which was first identified in Britain.
“If the situation with infections has a very serious impact on the citizens of this prefecture, then the event should be postponed or cancelled,” said Kotaro Nagasaki, the governor of Yamanashi.
The Governor of Okinawa, Denny Tamaki replied, saying “Protecting the lives of prefecture residents is a high priority” to the Mainichi by adding that the Games should be cancelled or adjourned if the officials of Tokyo are forced to declare a new state of emergency.
The Governor of the Ibaraki Prefecture, Kazuhiko Oikawa, asked when it became clear that the event “no matter the action taken” would not be safe to take. The decision was taken to cancel the event at what time. One of the most affected regions in the last few weeks was Hokkaido, in the far north, but Sapporo officials decided to carry out the Olympic marathon test on Wednesday.
The emergency meeting was held on Monday a day after the city recorded 246 cases. Once, Hokkaido Governor Naomichi Suzuki and Sapporo Mayor Katsuhiro Akimoto had broken the daily infection rates by 200. Five deaths have also taken place in the city.The race is currently being confined to 120 elite race members, including several national marathon team places at The Olympics, and about 50 race riders participating in a 10 km race, while the Hokkaido-Sapporo Marathon Festival 2021 is to be held as scheduled.
One of the 2500 amateur spots for participating in the event had previously been granted to Yoko Tsukamoto. She was “very disappointed” that she had to cancel the fun run portion.
“I was really looking forward to it, but I guess I understand why they have made these changes,” she said.
“The number of infections in Hokkaido has been going up like crazy in the last few weeks and it’s worse because we have the UK variant here now, so it is spreading even faster.”
“People are really concerned. We have been told to stay home as much as possible and to only go out when absolutely necessary, but they are still not declaring a state of emergency.”
Tsukamoto, a Health Sciences University infection management Professor in Hokkaido, said she was in favor of the Games, despite the coronavirus, and was still hoping that there would be a decrease in infection numbers. But she said that time had run out and that she had second thoughts.
“I understand that they need to do these test events, for all the sports, and I’m still optimistic that things will get better, but I do believe the government needs to tell everyone what they are thinking, what plans they had put in place and how they are going to handle this situation so that it does not become worse,” she said.
“Right now, they’re not explaining things and that only makes people even more worried.”
Recent polls of public opinion have consistently demonstrated strong opposition to the upcoming Games, with more than 80% of Japanese people canceling or postponing the whole event for another year. A certain number of public figures have echoed this position, with Hiroshi Mikitani, head of the Rakuten Group, saying that in April on Twitter he considered the Games to be “too risky” this year.
On the television programme, Toshihiro Nikai, General Secretary of the Liberal Democratic Parti ruling, said: “If you cannot go ahead, you must stop this fast.” Even the chairman of the organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto admitted that he had “a large amount of concerns” at the end of April.
The government of Japan, the Metropolitan Government of Tokyo and the International Olympic Committee insist that the Games and the subsequent Paralympics continue to be held.
Source: South China Morning Post