FILE PHOTO: Athletes compete on the half-marathon race which doubles as a check occasion for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, in Sapporo, Japan Might 5, 2021. Charly Triballeau/Pool through REUTERS/File Photograph
June 9, 2021
By Ju-min Park
TOKYO (Reuters) -When Olympics organisers shifted the marathon occasion from Tokyo to the northern metropolis of Sapporo, they did so due to considerations concerning the intense summer season warmth within the Japanese capital.
Two years down the observe, critics say organisers have successfully leapt from the frying pan into the fireplace.
Sapporo is at present beneath a COVID-19 state of emergency amid a resurgence in coronavirus infections.
Officers within the metropolis say they nonetheless don’t have key info, together with the variety of athletes to count on and particulars on well being amenities, whereas opposition from residents to internet hosting a part of the world’s greatest multi-sporting occasion has grown.
“There’s no motion but,” stated Takashi Okugi, a Sapporo metropolis official answerable for Olympic preparations. “We don’t have sufficient time.”
With lower than two months to go, Hokkaido, the northernmost island the place Sapporo is the primary metropolis, has the second-highest per capita COVID-19 fee in Japan, about 43% increased than that of Tokyo. Sapporo, which has a inhabitants of slightly below 2 million folks, accounts for nearly two-thirds of recent instances.
Metropolis officers and residents are nervous concerning the inflow of athletes and assist employees at a time when town’s medical system is already stretched.
Okugi stated officers have made repeated requests to the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee in search of important particulars on points together with which hospitals can be designated to deal with any contaminated contributors.
“Thus far a number of solutions that we’re listening to are like no choice but or nonetheless into account,” Okugi stated. “With out a clear construction, we are able to’t work out but how a lot town’s medical system might be affected so we wish info from the organising committee rapidly.”
The Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee stated about 340 athletes deliberate to take part within the marathon and race strolling occasions in Sapporo, however the variety of employees and officers concerned within the Sapporo competitions was at present beneath overview.
“We are going to proceed to try for the understanding and assist of native residents by way of clear and cautious communication,” the committee instructed Reuters by e-mail, including that it holds working group conferences with Sapporo and Hokkaido officers each 4 to 6 weeks.
High Japanese authorities officers and Olympic organisers have pledged to carry a “protected and safe” Video games by implementing strict coronavirus measures.
Sapporo early final month hosted a half marathon as a check occasion for the upcoming Video games. All contributors, together with six worldwide athletes, needed to log their temperature and reply a well being questionnaire day by day within the week main as much as the occasion.
With infections already on the rise within the metropolis, organisers urged spectators to not come and watch the check race. Employees wore masks and generally face shields and plastic gloves.
World Athletics chief Sebastian Coe gave the check occasion excessive marks, saying organisers had been in a position to ship each on the operation of the race and on their COVID-19 countermeasures.
Organisers have already determined to not let in worldwide spectators for the Video games, however have but to announce whether or not native spectators can be allowed to attend.
Okugi stated that uncertainty meant no plans had but been made to accommodate spectators in Sapporo, which can be scheduled to host soccer matches and race-walk occasions through the Video games in July and August.
Many locals, who welcomed the Winter Olympics in 1972, are much less eager on their summer season cousin beneath the present circumstances.
Greater than a dozen civic teams in Hokkaido prefecture this week submitted a petition to demand the governor cancel all occasions scheduled to happen within the metropolis.
“There’s not sufficient hospital beds. Hokkaido’s medical system is already collapsing,” stated Masamichi Nishio, a health care provider and honorary director of Hokkaido Most cancers Middle, a type of representing the marketing campaign.
Takako Ishido, a Hokkaido prefecture official engaged on Olympics planning, stated she agreed with petition organizers that the security of residents was the precedence.
Ishido stated it was troublesome to evaluate an infection dangers with out an estimate of doubtless guests to town and known as for extra detailed info from Video games organisers.
Nishio stated many Sapporo residents with critical sicknesses had been unable to obtain immediate remedy as a result of hospital rooms had been crammed with COVID-19 instances.
“Why ought to now we have Olympics right here? Who can be liable for individuals who die from coronavirus after the Olympics?” he stated. “The federal government doesn’t care about our lives.”
(Reporting by Ju-min Park and Akiko Okamoto; Enhancing by Jane Wardell)