TOKYO: The Olympics should not be a burden on medical systems, Japanese government spokesperson said on Friday, fearing that daily athlete testing would tax already stressed health resources in the fight against rebound in cases of COVID-19.
The Games will be played out in a way that everyone feels safe, Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato told reporters, responding to concerns raised by a nurses union that the biggest sporting event in the country world will undermine the medical resources that the public needs.
Tokyo 2020 organizers this week released the second edition of “playbooks” that outline infection prevention standards for the Summer Games, which are expected to begin in less than three months after a year of delay due to the pandemic.
The rules require daily testing of athletes and restrict their use of public transport, making logistics more difficult in more remote locations.
The surf site at the Tokyo Olympics has refused to set up COVID-19 testing and treatment facilities for athletes, citing a lack of medical facilities, NHK reported on Friday.
The Brazilian national team has asked the city of Ichinomiya, about 96 km (60 miles) east of Tokyo, to set up a testing center, NHK said.
Brazilian surfers, who are expected to be among the medals in the sport’s Olympic debut, had wanted to settle near the beach instead of the Olympic Village about two hours away, NHK said.
A representative of the city’s Olympic planning office denied the report when contacted by Reuters. Representatives for the Tokyo Olympics did not immediately respond when contacted for comment, and the Brazilian team could not be reached immediately.
Japan is struggling to tame a resurgence of coronaviruses and its vaccination campaign, so far dependent on imports of the vaccine from Pfizer Inc., is lagging behind all other rich countries.
Health Minister Norihisa Tamura confirmed on Friday that the first doses of Moderna Inc’s vaccine, which are expected to be approved in May, have arrived in Japan.
Japan has inoculated just 1.8% of its population, too little to blunt a fourth wave of cases from more infectious strains of the virus.
Seeking to slow the spread, Tokyo and Osaka remain under state of emergency, which will last until May 11.
“If we don’t move forward with mass immunization, we will forever end up with an endless loop of emergency declarations,” Hiroshi Mikitani, managing director of e-commerce company Rakuten, told Asahi TV.
Tokyo reported 1,027 new cases on Thursday, the highest since January 28 during the previous declaration of emergency, and 698 on Friday.
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