Tokyo, Japan: A Tokyo medical organization advised on Thursday that the Olympics should be held without spectators due to virus concerns, while a doctors’ group called for the games to be canceled altogether, citing the prospect of “disaster.”
A virus emergency has been declared in several parts of Japan due to an outbreak of diseases, and the public is largely opposed to the Games taking place this summer.
As Japan confronts a fourth viral wave, medical organizations have warned that the large event could introduce new strains and put a burden on medical resources.
The Tokyo Medical Association, which has over 20,000 members, has not urged for the event to be canceled completely.
But, according to its chairman, Haruo Ozaki, “conducting the Games without spectators is the bare minimum given the current scenario.”
“This is the Olympics in a time of emergency,” he said at a press conference.
Organizers have already prevented international fans from attending the Tokyo Olympics, a first for the Olympics.
In late June, a decision on domestic spectators is likely.
Virus emergency declarations are scheduled to be extended this week until June 20 in numerous areas, including Tokyo.
Ozaki asked the government to act quickly to combat the virus, stressing that “this is the last chance” to prevent infections before the Games.
Current viral regulations in Tokyo allow venues to hold up to 5,000 people or 50% of their capacity, whichever is less.
Olympic organizers claim that stringent rulebooks with viral defenses will ensure the safety of athletes and the general public in Japan.
Athletes will be tested on a daily basis, and public transportation will be prohibited.
However, bringing tens of thousands of athletes, staff, journalists, and authorities from around the world, however, poses a real “danger,” according to Naoto Ueyama, chair of the Japan Doctors Union.
“Initially the Tokyo Olympics was dubbed a Games to showcase reconstruction from the 2011 earthquake and tsunami disaster, but the Tokyo Olympics could generate another disaster,” he said.
“A new variant might arise and may be called the Tokyo Olympic strain, and the criticism that the Games were a great act of folly by humankind may stalk us for the next 100 years to come,” he added.
“Some people are acting almost like dictators and asking people to make sacrifices in order for the Olympic Games to go ahead.”
His organization, which represents 130 doctors across Japan, has openly advocated an Olympics cancellation, along with another group representing 6,000 doctors in Tokyo.
Olympic organizers have stated that the Games will not put more strain on Japan’s healthcare system, with the International Olympic Committee proposing to send medical personnel to ensure that the Games are not a burden.
Organizers’ requests for volunteer nurses sparked outrage, but a request for volunteer doctors drew nearly double the number of experts needed.
According to polls, almost 80% of Japanese voters want the Games scrapped or postponed for another year.
The show will go on, according to Japan’s government and Olympic organizers, and the first athletes are set to arrive for training camps next week.