Tokyo Olympics Remain on Track Despite Concerns Over Coronavirus - By Elizabeth Jeneault - J-Pop Exchange Information & Views
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Tokyo Olympics Remain on Track Despite Concerns Over Coronavirus

By Elizabeth Jeneault for The J-Pop Exchange

Despite growing concerns that the coronavirus could impact the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo, officials say there is no “Plan B” for the games and that they will go on as scheduled.

While the virus continues to spread in neighboring China, Tokyo Olympic organizers and the International Olympic Committee said at a recent press conference that they feel confident the Tokyo Olympics will open as planned on July 24.

Coronavirus cases in Japan

The statements come on the heels of Japan announcing its first death from the coronavirus outbreak. A woman in her 80s died after being treated at a Tokyo hospital.

It also comes after hundreds were infected with the virus aboard the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which has been under quarantine off the coast of Japan. People with confirmed infections have been taken to hospitals in Japan. A number of Americans were evacuated from the ship, including some who ended up testing positive for the virus after getting off. They were still allowed to travel back to the United States, as officials said they were asymptomatic and were kept separate from passengers who did not test positive for the virus.

Some uncertain about decision to move forward with Tokyo 2020 as planned

While Tokyo 2020 organizers seem highly confident in their decision to keep moving forward with the Summer Games despite the outbreak, some argue there’s just no way to tell which course the virus will take and what impact it might have.

“Frankly speaking, there is no guarantee that the outbreak will come to an end before the Olympics because we have no scientific basis to be able to say that,” Shigeru Omi, a former regional director of the World Health Organization and an infectious disease expert from Japan, recently told the Associated Press.

John Coates, head of an IOC inspection team, did say at a recent press conference that he’s keeping a close eye on the Chinese athletes. But, he talked optimistically about their eventual presence in Tokyo.

“You’ll find that the Chinese teams are mostly out of China. That’s the athletes and officials,” said Coates.

Medical workers, protestors demand Japan shut down border with China

Some medical workers in Japan don’t feel it’s enough to simply monitor the athletes and other people coming in from China, though. Thousands recently went on strike in Hong Kong, demanding the government shut down the border with mainland China to help prevent the spread of the virus.

Protestors also took to the streets to advocate for a complete border closure. They were additionally marching in opposition of the Japanese government’s reported plan to turn neighborhood buildings into coronavirus quarantine centers.

Japanese government, Olympic organizers closely monitoring situation

Japanese government officials and Tokyo 2020 organizers say they will continue to closely monitor the situation.

The Japanese government and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government have established groups to help respond to issues related to the coronavirus. The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee also recently announced that it established a “novel coronavirus countermeasures task force.” That task force will be led by its CEO.

It’s safe to say that government officials and health experts worldwide will also be keeping a close eye on the coronavirus as the 2020 Olympics approach.

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