By Gregory Bryce
It is April 15th as I write this article, and to date, Tokyo by itself has just registered 1,429 new cases of the coronavirus. This brings their total number of cases in Tokyo to a tally of 127,453 positive cases of COVID-19. When you take into consideration that Tokyo’s tally alone makes up for a quarter of Japan’s total number of COVID-19 cases (that number being 571,281 cases) then the concerns about Tokyo hosting the 2020 Olympics become apparent.
To further put that into consideration, for every 1000 persons in Japan, an average of four persons have had the virus. However, when you take a look at Tokyo by itself, the city’s average is more than three times higher than the national average. In Tokyo, for every 1000 persons, an average of 14 persons have been infected by the coronavirus.
And if you need further comparisons, Jamaica currently has an average of 15 cases per every 1000 persons- just about the same as Tokyo.
So what has the government been doing in Tokyo to help curb the spread of the virus? We see where, here in Jamaica, frequent lockdowns and curfews are being put in place as a way to reduce transmission hours.
Japan’s case is very similar to Jamaica’s as their government has announced new COVID measures that will affect Tokyo. These measures include proposed pseudo-lockdowns for areas in Japan just like in Jamaica. However, the Japanese government is being less strict with their COVID measures and will allow for more freedom of movement but one of the new protocols have called for all restaurants and bars to be closed by 8 pm.
“Today, we decided to take intensive measures to prevent an epidemic in Tokyo, Kyoto, and Okinawa,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said. “We made the decision based on the fact that the number of new infections is increasing and there is concern that the medical system could come under pressure in these regions.”
So with the coronavirus still the main concern for Tokyo, what are the most recent developments regarding the Olympics to be hosted in the city in just three months’ time?
Well, the citizens of Tokyo seem to be firmly against hosting the Olympics in July and have made their opinions clear on the issue. In a recent poll, 39.2% said that the Olympics should be cancelled and 32.85% said the Olympics should be postponed yet again.
Obviously, the Tokyo Olympics would bring with it a large influx of persons to the city. From athletes, to officials, to workers and fans, the fear is that Tokyo would see a dramatic spike in cases due to the sporting event.
Approximately less than 1% has been vaccinated in Japan, and this number is not expected to rise in time for the Olympic Games. A lot of people, including healthcare workers, are worried about the chances of imported cases coming into the country, and are worried that the increased social interaction would increase the number of cases in an unvaccinated and vulnerable society.
Although the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has insisted that the Tokyo Olympics will go underway on July 23, several high ranking Japanese officials have said that there still is a possibility that the Olympics could be postponed or even cancelled.
Toshihiro Nakai, the general secretary for the Liberal Democratic Party, has said that postponing the Olympics is still an option on the table.
“If it seems impossible to do it any more, then we have to stop, decisively,” he said in an interview. “If the Olympics were to spread infections, then what are the Olympics for?”
The countdown is on, and with 98 days until the proposed date, the pressure is on for the IOC to prove that the Olympics will be done in a safe and controlled environment as promised.
Gregory Bryce is a freelance journalist.
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