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Experts call for stringent anti-virus measures for Tokyo Olympics

The Saturday editions of all national papers wrote that the public health professionals on the GOJ coronavirus taskforce subcommittee led by Chairman Omi voluntarily put together a package of recommendations on the Tokyo Olympics for submission to the GOJ and the organizing committee. They reportedly insisted that it would be “desirable not to allow spectators to attend” the Games from the standpoint of preventing a resurgence of the novel coronavirus. However, as the GOJ and the committee are already planning to allow domestic spectators, the experts recommended that only residents of the towns hosting the events be allowed to attend and that spectators be disallowed without delay if there are any signs pointing to the arrival of a fifth wave of infection. The physicians and researchers reportedly took issue with the Suga administration’s treatment of the international sporting event as equal to baseball, soccer, and other popular sports, saying that the Olympics are different from other events in the number of people involved and the keen attention paid to them at home and abroad.


Asahi wrote that Prime Minister Suga and other administration officials were not pleased with the experts’ advice given that they are already determined to allow spectators to attend because they consider their presence to be indispensable in boosting “the solidarity of the people” during the Games with the ultimate goal of prevailing in the general election to be held by October at the latest. The daily added, however, that some Kantei officials, afraid of a potential resurgence of the virus ahead of the Games, are bracing for the possibility of the administration being forced to give up on allowing spectators in the end.


Mainichi said the Suga administration reacted coolly to the experts’ opinions, speculating that it is optimistic about holding the Games in the belief that hospital capacity is not likely to become strained during the Olympics thanks to rapid vaccination even if the number of new cases soars around that time.


The organizing committee has compiled a set of infection prevention guidelines that it wants spectators to abide by, urging them to go straight to and from the venues without stopping to eat out on the way, arrive early to avoid congestion, report on their health conditions using a special app ahead of attending, wear masks at all times, and refrain from speaking loudly while watching the events. The committee reportedly underscored that noncompliance may result in expulsion.


In a related development, all Sunday papers reported on the disclosure by Tokyo Governor Koike on Saturday that she has decided to cancel all the public viewing events related to the Summer Games that the metropolitan government had been planning to sponsor in order to avoid increasing people’s mobility. Some of the venues will reportedly be converted into COVID-19 vaccination platforms. “Various infection prevention and mitigation measures need to be implemented to make the Olympics a success,” the governor told the press after meeting with Prime Minister Suga on Saturday. “The premier agreed with my decision.”


Meanwhile, the National Governors’ Association has compiled a package of requests for submission to the GOJ aimed at preventing the Summer Games from triggering a fifth wave of infection. The prefectural leaders are calling for strict monitoring of the activities of athletes, media representatives, and other support staff as well as the vaccination of all volunteers.

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