JAPAN: WILL THE TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPICS SURVIVE THE PANDEMIC?

SHAE KUROKAWA WRITES — The Tokyo Summer Olympics is quickly approaching, with less than 100 days before its expected commencement on July 23. But the world is starting to question whether the long-anticipated games will be able to proceed on schedule as COVID-19 cases are on the rise.

Talk of further postponement has been sparked by Japan’s new restrictions. On April 12, Tokyo, Kyoto, and parts of Okinawa were placed under a quasi-state of emergency, joining Osaka, Hyogo, and Miyaga, which have followed these measures since April 5. And as of Friday April 16, the nation expanded the restrictions to four more regions, meaning a total of ten prefectures are to follow the curb.

Other restrictions have been put in place. For example, there is now a 5,000- person attendance cap on large events, while restaurants, bars and other businesses have been ordered to shorten their hours of operation.

The purpose of these restrictions is to keep regional outbreaks from spreading throughout the nation. But statistics are looking dreary. Currently, Japan has reached over 522,000 cases and over 9,500 deaths due to the coronavirus, with numbers increasing every day. Surely, vaccination is the world’s biggest hope for halting the spread of infections, yet Japan has only given a first inoculation dose to 0.93% of its population.

Despite the warning from experts that the Olympics may be a super-spreader event, Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told the organizing committee that “We’re not thinking of cancelling the Olympics,” and instead “we will continue to do what we can to implement a thorough safety regimen that will make people feel completely safe.”

While the determination to proceed with the Olympics this summer can be seen as a symbol of hope and international camaraderie, many still believe the infamous games should be pushed to a further date once again. What do you think? Let the games begin? Or not?

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