The head of a Japanese doctors union on May 27 warned holding the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer, with tens of thousands of people gathering from around the world, could lead to the development of a new “Olympic” strain of the coronavirus.
On the other hand, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that the government is fully focussed on controlling the spread of Covid-19 and promised to hold a “safe and secure” 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
Japanese officials, Olympics organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have all vowed the Games will go ahead, albeit under strict virus prevention measures.
Even with these preventions, worries remain about the influx of athletes and officials into Japan, where the vaccine process remains glacially slow and just over 5% of the population have received inoculations.
According to Naoto Ueyama, head of the Japan Doctors Union,” With people from over 200 nations and territories set to arrive in Tokyo, it will be dangerous to host the Games in July”.
“All of the different mutant strains of the virus which exist in different places will be concentrated and gathering here in Tokyo. We cannot deny the possibility of even a new strain of the virus potentially emerging after the Olympics,” he told in a news conference.
“If such a situation were to arise, it could even mean a Tokyo Olympic strain of the virus being named in this way, which would be a huge tragedy and something which would be the target of criticism even for 100 years”, he added.
Even after the backlash, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is determined to hold the Olympics in Tokyo beginning on July 23, after a one-year delay, and has made an ambitious pledge to finish vaccinating the country’s 36 million older people by the end of July.