With 100 days to go, Tokyo scrambles to stage pandemic Olympics By Reuters



© Reuters. A person carrying a protecting masks amid the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak, cycles previous Ariake Area in Tokyo


By Sakura Murakami, Elaine Lies and Kiyoshi Takenaka

TOKYO (Reuters) – When Japan received the bid to host the Olympic Video games eight years in the past, it billed Tokyo as a dependable and safe location, contrasting it with rivals combating funds and political instability.

However 100 days earlier than the beginning of the Olympics, the organisers face a deluge of challenges and rising uncertainty because the pandemic rages around the globe, affecting selections on every part from athlete security to spectator numbers to ticket gross sales.

The most important headache is the resurgent coronavirus, with nations like India and Brazil battling new variants and a contemporary rise in instances. In Japan, vaccinations have been the slowest amongst developed economies, as Tokyo has lurched out and in of soppy lockdowns. Infections are on the rise, and consultants fear https://www.reuters.com/article/uk-health-coronavirus-tokyo-emergency-idAFKBN2BV0UA the town is on the cusp of an “explosive” soar in instances.

Because of this, overseas spectators have been barred, elements of the torch relay have been re-routed, and the organizers are but to resolve what to do with the home viewers. This has brought on main challenges for sports activities venues and journey businesses, already grappling with restrictions to dam the virus.

“The state of affairs is consistently shifting. Even in the previous few months the coronavirus state of affairs has modified massively, and it’ll proceed to take action, and it’s extremely difficult to proceed preparations after we do not know what the state of affairs shall be sooner or later,” stated Hidemasa Nakamura, the highest organising committee official overseeing logistical preparations for the Video games.

His staff has created the primary “playbook” with COVID countermeasures, together with guidelines banning visits to outlets and eating places. If visiting athletes break protocol, it might consequence of their being barred from competing.

However Nakamura pledged to beat the challenges as “one staff” and instructed Reuters it was “essential to point out what now we have now, obtain suggestions, and finalise the playbook step-by-step, to not have these discussions behind closed doorways.”

The subsequent replace to the principles is anticipated this month, he stated.


Nakamura stated that the summer time warmth poses one other impediment for Tokyo, and “there shall be conditions the place it is onerous to stability each warmth and coronavirus countermeasures,” resembling when folks in masks queue outdoors venues.

Tokyo authorities official Yoichiro Hara, who oversees preparations on public roads across the venues, added that “the signs of warmth exhaustion might be just like these of the coronavirus.”

Hara stated his staff is contemplating whether or not medical workers at first-aid stations ought to put on full protecting fits, however with the problem of gauging the prevalence of the virus in July and no resolution but on the variety of spectators, they’ve been unable to resolve on what number of stations are wanted.

One other problem is the athletes’ village, anticipated to deal with 15,000 folks from greater than 200 nations to compete in 33 sports activities at 42 venues. The organizers have deliberate for 126,000 volunteers to shepherd athletes and spectators across the metropolis.

“The medical system is already beneath pressure. Our native well being centre cannot probably maintain these athletes within the village,” stated Hideki Hayakawa, director of Olympic coordination unit at Tokyo’s Chuo ward, the place the village is situated.

Hayakawa stated that and different points are nonetheless being negotiated with the Tokyo authorities.

Some native organisers complain that data from Tokyo has come slowly, and that they study key developments from the media. Others, like Mie Watanabe, readying the street race course in Oyama, a metropolis 90 kilometres (56 miles) southwest of Tokyo, fear months of their work might go to waste.

“The truth that we do not know if roadside spectators shall be allowed is an enormous downside for us – it means a few of our preparations will not be wanted,” stated Watanabe, itemizing gadgets resembling tents, bogs, and parking areas.

Organisers in Oyama have put aside cash to purchase as much as 5,000 masks for the onlookers – if they’re allowed to collect.

“As soon as we do discover out, it will be an actual scramble,” Watanabe stated.

(This story refiles to repair dropped phrase in Paragraph 15)

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