Sports Some medical experts unconvinced about holding Tokyo Games
NHL postpones Canucks' next three games due to COVID
The NHL has postponed three more games for the Vancouver Canucks, shutting them down through April 6 after Travis Hamonic was added to the COVID protocol on Thursday. Hamonic joined Adam Gaudette, who has tested positive for coronavirus and a member of the team’s coaching staff. © Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports The NHL has shut down the Canucks through April 6. The league is hoping that the Canucks will be able to play on April 8 against the Calgary Flames, but games against the Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets in the coming days will have to be pushed. All practices have also been canceled for the time being.
TOKYO — The Tokyo Olympics open in under four months, and the torch relay has begun to crisscross Japan with 10,000 runners. Organizers say they are mitigating the risks, but some medical experts aren't convinced.
“It is best to not hold the Olympics given the considerable risks,” Dr. Norio Sugaya, an infectious diseases expert at Keiyu Hospital in Yokohama, told The Associated Press. “The risks are high in Japan. Japan is dangerous, not a safe place at all.”
Sugaya believes vaccinating 50-70% of the general public should be “a prerequisite” to safely hold the Olympics, a highly unlikely scenario given the slow vaccine rollout in Japan.
NHL postpones Wednesday's Calgary-Vancouver game
The NHL has decided to ere on the side of caution as a result of Adam Gaudette’s positive COVID-19 test. Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports (Twitter link) that tonight’s game between the Canucks and Flames has been postponed. TSN’s Frank Seravalli tweets that the decision was made after more information has surfaced regarding Vancouver’s test results; that information obviously has not yet been made public.
Fewer than 1% of the population has been vaccinated so far, and all are medical professionals. Most of the general public is not expected to be vaccinated by the time the Olympics open July 23.
“Tens of thousands of foreigners are going to be entering the country, including mass media, in a short period of time," Sugaya said, “the challenges are going to be enormous.”
The Japanese government and local Olympic organizers have said vaccination is not a prerequisite for the Olympics, although the International Olympic Committee is encouraging the 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes to be vaccinated when they enter Japan.
The number of COVID-19-related deaths in Japan is about 9,000 — far fewer than many countries — but Sugaya stressed the number is among the highest in Asia.
Some medical experts unconvinced about holding Tokyo Games
TOKYO — The Tokyo Olympics open in under four months, and the torch relay has begun to crisscross Japan with 10,000 runners. Organizers say they are mitigating the risks, but some medical experts aren't convinced. “It is best to not hold the Olympics given the considerable risks,” Dr. Norio Sugaya, an infectious diseases expert at Keiyu Hospital in Yokohama, told The Associated Press. “The risks are high in Japan. Japan is dangerous, not a safe place at all.” Sugaya believes vaccinating 50-70% of the general public should be “a prerequisite” to safely hold the Olympics, a highly unlikely scenario given the slow vaccine rollout in Japan.
Hospital systems are stretched, especially in hardest hit areas such as Tokyo.
Japan never pushed PCR testing, meaning few mechanisms are in place to prevent infection clusters. There hasn't been a national lockdown, but the government has periodically issued a “state of emergency,” urging people to work from home and restaurants to close early.
Dr. Toshio Nakagawa, who heads the Japan Medical Association, expressed serious concern about what he called “a rebound” of coronavirus cases. He called for preventive measures.
“To prevent a fourth wave, we have to act forcefully and extremely quickly,” he told reporters earlier this month.
Taisuke Nakata and Daisuke Fujii, professors of economics at the University of Tokyo, have been carrying out projections for the spread of the coronavirus, adapting a standard epidemiological model but taking into account economic activity as measured by GDP and mobility data.
Tokyo Olympics Official Resigns After Calling Female Japanese Celebrity ‘Olympig’
Hiroshi Sasaki, the Games' creative director, suggested that Japanese celeb Naomi Watanabe could perform dressed as a pig during the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremonyHiroshi Sasaki, the Games' creative director, has resigned after a report from Japanese magazine Shukan Bunshun said he suggested a female Japanese celebrity dress as a pig during this summer's opening ceremony, according to a Tokyo Olympics press release.
According to their projections, daily infection cases in Tokyo will total more than 1,000 people by May, peaking in July, right about the time the Olympics are on. Daily cases have hovered at about 300 people for Tokyo lately.
They say that’s an “optimistic” scenario that assumes vaccines will be gradually rolling out by then.
The other possible scenario has the government declaring a state of emergency as daily cases climb. That could mean the Olympics will be held in the middle of an “emergency.”
The professors declined to comment directly on the wisdom of holding the Olympics.
Despite the warnings, the Japanese government and Tokyo Olympics organizers remain determined to go ahead with the Games. Tokyo is officially spending $15.4 billion to prepare the Olympics, but several government audits say it might be twice that much. All but $6.7 billion is public money.
The chief driver of the Olympics is the IOC, which derives almost 75% of its income from broadcast rights and needs to get the games on television.
Organizers say they will hold a “safe and secure” Olympics by keeping athletes and officials in a “bubble,” administering periodic tests, and then getting everyone to leave Japan as soon as possible.
Japan imposes new virus measures in Tokyo ahead of Olympics
TOKYO — Japan announced Friday that it will raise the coronavirus alert level in Tokyo to allow tougher measures to curb the rapid spread of a more contagious variant ahead of the Summer Olympics. Japan's national vaccination drive has lagged and most people in the capital still have not been inoculated as infections have surged. The raised status announced by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will allow Tokyo's governor to mandate shorter opening hours for bars and restaurants, along with punishments for violators and compensation for those who comply. The measures are to begin Monday and continue through May 11.
Last week the IOC said it would cut back on the number of accredited participants entering Japan, providing credentials only to those who “have essential and operational responsibilities.”
Japanese news agency Kyodo has reported, citing unidentified sources, that 90,000 people are expected to enter Japan from abroad. About 30,000 of those are Olympic and Paralympic athletes, coaches, staff and officials.
That leaves 60,000, and Kyodo said the plan is to cut that to about 30,000, many of whom would be news media.
In addition, organizers said all ticket holders from abroad would be banned from entering.
Public opinion surveys show most Japanese want the Tokyo Games cancelled or postponed again.
Taro Yamamoto, a former lawmaker, said Japan is not prepared to deal with an influx of travellers from abroad.
“If Japan has not been able to protect its own people, it cannot claim to be able to protect people from all over the world,” during the Olympics, he said. “To keep insisting the Games will go on is just madness.”
AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/olympic-games and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
Yuri Kageyama is on Twitter https://twitter.com/yurikageyama
Stephen Wade is on Twitter https://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP
Yuri Kageyama And Stephen Wade, The Associated Press
Surfer Mathea Olin hoping to catch historic wave to Tokyo Olympics .
Tofino, B.C.'s Mathea Olin may not train in the world's top surfing hotspots, but that hasn't stopped her from growing into an elite contender ahead of the Tokyo Olympics.Rarely do they equate surfing with Canada, where, even in the summer, jumping into the ocean can be a shock to the system.