Sports Battling opposition and 4th COVID wave, Tokyo forges ahead with Olympics
COVID protocol-related absences: 05/26/21
Each day, the NHL will publicly release the list of players that are unavailable to their respective teams due to being in COVID-19 Protocol. Here is today’s list: © Billy Hardiman-USA TODAY Sports Colorado – Jayson Megna*Vegas – Brayden McNabb*As a reminder, inclusion on this list does not mean that a player has tested positive for Coronavirus or even that they have been confirmed as a close contact to another positive person.
With the starting line approaching, Japan is suited up for its Summer Games.
Olympic rings are stenciled on skyscrapers, draped on lampposts and defiantly planted in the middle of Tokyo Bay — seemingly declaring no pandemic will stand in the way: Tokyo 2020 will happen in '21, one year after its delay due to the coronavirus crisis.
Last week, medals, mascots and podiums were unveiled in Tokyo with rousing fanfare — the soundtrack of a certain spectacle set to soon envelop the Japanese capital.
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The president of the Tokyo organizing committee, Seiko Hashimoto, insisted these Olympics must be held "so we can contribute to the regrowth of people's connections, which were divided by COVID."
The trouble is people's connections are still divided in Japan — and public opinion is tilting heavily against the Games.
"It is simply beyond reason to hold the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics this summer," readin Asahi Shimbun, one of Japan's leading newspapers.
Some of the country's medical experts are also frustrated at what they see as missed opportunities to create a safe atmosphere before the commitment to move forward was made.
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"We had scientific evidence and we knew what should have been done" to hold the Olympics safely, said Kenji Shibuya, a former chief of health policy and senior adviser to the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) who is now helping run Japan's vaccination program in Fukushima. "I'm very disappointed that all of that was not done.
"We had knowledge about how to mitigate risks, how to avoid transmission, and we knew that vaccination is very, very effective — but we haven't seen it," he said in a Skype interview with CBC News.
For all the pomp and preparations, Japan is struggling to pull out of a fourth wave of infections. A state of emergency was expanded to areas around Tokyo and eight other cities, and then— about a month ahead of opening ceremonies scheduled for July 23. In the hardest hit region around Osaka, hospitals are struggling to keep up.
NHL's COVID protocol-related absences for June 2, 2021
Players in the protocol are: Colorado's Jayson Megna and Vegas' Brayden McNabb.Colorado – Jayson Megna
Slow rollout of vaccines
Japan has fared better than many other parts of the world, though, recording more than 760,000 COVID-19 cases and 13,600 deaths since the pandemic started, based on. But one-fifth of those deaths came in the past month.
Meanwhile, vaccination efforts in the countryother G7 countries, with Japan either fully or partially vaccinating around 11 per cent of its population. That compares nearly 60 per cent in the U.K. and 62 in Canada.
"From the bottom of my heart, I ask for everyone's understanding and co-operation," Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said two weeks ago, announcing it was too early to end the state of emergency. He then dodged questions about whether the Games should go ahead under the circumstances, simply saying that "infection control measures" would be in place to protect both athletes and the public.
Under those measures, foreign spectators have been banned from attending the Games. And though Japanese fans have been given tickets, it's possible the stands will be kept empty.
NHL's COVID protocol-related absences for June 3, 2021
Each day, the NHL will publicly release the list of players that are unavailable to their respective teams due to being in the COVID-19 Protocol. Here is today's list.Colorado – Jayson Megna
Athletes, media and visiting officials will also be largely confined to limited Olympic sites in what could be the loneliest Olympics ever. Canadian athletesfor that.
Cancelling the Games could cost the Japanese government and corporate sponsors at least. Some in Japan worry their country could also lose face.
"We raised our hand as a country to host the Games," Irisawa Susumu told CBC News on his way home from work. "We have a responsibility to create a good environment for the athletes to come to."
But the fear of widespread infection remains in Tokyo. The head of the Japan Doctors Union has voiced concern that a new mutant strain of COVID — an "Olympic variant" — could emerge this summer, warning that such a large gathering of people from so many different places has not yet occurred since the emergence of the virus.
Some 10,000 out of 80,000 volunteers who signed up to help at the Games have quit.
"I think there are a lot of people wondering why they are going to such lengths [to hold the Games]," Tokyo resident Ryuto Kobayashi told CBC News.
All roads -- blocked off roads -- lead to Tokyo Olympics
TOKYO (AP) — Roads were being closed off Tuesday around Tokyo Olympic venues, including the new $1.4 billion National Stadium where the opening ceremony is set for July 23. This is a clear sign that Tokyo Olympic planners and the International Olympic Committee are moving forward despite public opposition, warnings about the risks of the games becoming a spreader event, and Tokyo and other parts of Japan being under a state of emergency until June 20.
"So many strains are coming out now and they're scary," said Masai Takuma. "And after all, life is more precious than the Olympics. It would be better to cancel."
Athletes already arriving
last month showed 83 per cent of respondents felt the same way when asked if the Olympics should be further postponed or scrapped altogether. demanding that the Games be cancelled "to protect our lives" has collected more than 420,000 signatures.
Beyond the risks of COVID, the man leading the petition says it's "outrageous" that Tokyo is spending so much money on the Games when it hasn't given its citizens and small businesses enough to survive through the past year.
"The Olympics must be cancelled, and these precious resources must be used to support people who are struggling with poverty because of the pandemic," Kenji Utsunomiya told CBC News.
With just weeks to go, it may be too late.
At its executive board meeting this week, International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach declared "here we go," before setting off for Tokyo's starting ceremonies. The IOC has said it's confident Japan can keep the Games safe.
Olympic competitors have also begun arriving in Japan. The Australian women's softball team was among the first to land last week — prepared for "lots and lots of COVID testing," said player Jade Wall.
And after almost three months of criss-crossing Japan, the Olympic flame is nearing its final destination of the opening ceremonies. The torch relay has struggled under the protocols of COVID — fewer people and more masks — as well as vocal protests by opponents of the Olympics.
Still, at this stage, it doesn't seem like anyone is about to snuff out these Games.
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