IOC, Tokyo Olympic organizers start meetings to determine if Games will push through

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The International Olympic Committee (IOC) and Tokyo Olympic organizers start three days of virtual meetings on Wednesday and will run into some of the strongest medical-community opposition so far with the games set to open in just over eight weeks.

The meetings are headed by IOC Vice President John Coates, who will attempt to again assure the Japanese population that the games will be “safe and secure.”

Much of Japan, including Tokyo and Osaka, is under a state of emergency, which forced IOC President Thomas Bach to cancel a trip to Japan this month. Only about 1 to 2 percent of the population is fully vaccinated, and opposition to the Olympics is running at 60 to 80 percent in numerous polls.

In one of the strongest statements so far, the 6,000-member Tokyo Medical Practitioners’ Association called for the Olympics to be canceled in a letter sent last week to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, and Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the organizing committee.

 

Confronted in Japan with some of the strongest medical-community opposition yet to the Tokyo Olympics, IOC President Thomas Bach offered Wednesday to have added medical personnel available to help out when the games open in just over nine weeks.

Bach gave few details, speaking remotely at the opening of three days of meetings between the International Olympic Committee and local organizers. He said the help would come from various national Olympic committees and be available in the Olympic village and sports venues.

In his 12-minute address, Bach attempted to assure the Japanese public and athletes coming to Tokyo that the IOC will hold “safe and secure” Olympics in the midst of the pandemic.

“For obvious reasons we cannot give them (athletes) every detail yet, but the most important principle is very clear: the Olympic Village is a safe place and the Olympic and Paralympic Games will be organized in a safe way,” Bach said.

Bach said he anticipated more than 80 percent of those staying in the Olympic Village would be vaccinated. Reports locally say that Japan’s Olympic delegation will begin getting vaccinated in June.

The 6,000-member Tokyo Medical Practitioners’ Association called for the Olympics to be canceled in a letter sent last week to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa, and Seiko Hashimoto, the head of the organizing committee.

The letter was made public this week on the group’s website.

“We believe the correct choice is to the cancel an event that has the possibility of increasing the numbers of infected people and deaths,” the letter said.

“Viruses are spread by people’s movements. Japan will hold a heavy responsibility if the Olympics and Paralympics work to worsen the pandemic, increasing the number of those who must suffer and die,” it added.

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