Forty Japanese ‘host cities’ drop plans to welcome incoming Olympic athletes over Covid concerns – fr

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Forty Japanese ‘host cities’ drop plans to welcome incoming Olympic athletes over Covid concerns – fr


Topline

In the latest blow to the Tokyo Olympics, around 40 Japanese cities have abandoned plans to host visiting athletes amid concerns over insufficient resources as Japan deals with its latest wave of Covid infections -19, while calls multiply for the event to be postponed or canceled.

Highlights

According to Nikkei, out of the 528 cities registered to host international athletes, forty have decided not to host them for training camps and cultural exchanges before the summer games.

Ibaraki Prefecture Governor Kazuhiko Oigawa said on Wednesday he had rejected a request from the Tokyo Olympic Games Organizing Committee to secure hospital beds for the athletes because he wanted to donate priority to citizens.
Foreign athletes will not be able to participate in an upcoming trial for the BMX freestyle cycling event at the Olympics, the Japanese daily Yomiuri reported on Thursday.
Concerns over the state of the pandemic in Japan have also led the U.S. track and field team to cancel their pre-Olympic training camp in the country, eastern Chiba prefecture said on Wednesday.
Despite growing skepticism about the feasibility of hosting the event amid growing cases of Covid-19, the International Olympic Committee insisted on Wednesday that the “historic” games in Tokyo would go ahead as planned.
Japan reported 7,521 new cases of Covid-19 on Wednesday, its highest number in May as the country witnesses its worst wave of a pandemic.

Large number

2.9%. That’s the percentage of Japan’s population of 126 million who have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to Bloomberg’s Global Immunization Tracker. Reuters notes that this makes it the slowest rollout among rich countries.

Chief critic

“I don’t think we can gain the understanding of the international community, let alone Japan, if we were to host the Olympics in the midst of a medical collapse,” Oigawa told reporters earlier this week. Governor Ibaraki last week joined with eight others in the country to call for the Olympics to be postponed or canceled.

Key context

Last week, the Japanese government announced it would extend its state of emergency in Tokyo, Osaka and two other regions until May 31, as it faces a worrying rise in Covid-19 cases. The steady increase in cases as well as a slow rollout of vaccines have called into question the feasibility of the Olympics due to take place in July. The increasingly unpopular move has now started to face rejection from Japanese citizens online and a petition to cancel the games has now reached 345,000 signatures. The petition, which was launched last week, argues that it is “highly possible” for the Olympics to become a “mass market” event that “will cause danger and fear to healthcare workers, citizens and participants” .

Further reading

Latest coronavirus: 40 Japanese cities give up hosting Olympic athletes (Nikkei Asia)

Japanese cities drop plans to host Olympians amid coronavirus outbreak (Reuters)

Comprehensive coverage and live updates on the coronavirus

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