Covid-19 takes center stage before 100-day countdown to Olympics

By Antonio Hermosín Gandul

Tokyo, Apr 13 (EFE).- Fresh restrictions to curb a surge in coronavirus infections in Japan are taking center stage as this year’s Olympics host begins the 100-day countdown to Tokyo 2020.

The complexity of the situation evidenced by the fact that sections of the traditional Olympic torch relay had to be done behind closed doors as well as the recent cancellation of some Olympic qualifying events. 

The situation has caused an upset with some of the international sporting federations, as well as friction between the organizational committee and locals, many of whom are against the Games going ahead this summer at all

A number of Japanese regions have reported a spike in coronavirus cases since the public health emergency was lifted on 22 March, which prompted the authorities to declare “pseudo-alert”.

In Tokyo and five other prefectures, authorities have limited the number of spectators in sporting venues to a maximum of 5,000 and reduced the opening hours of bars and restaurants.   

These measures caused confusion among the Japanese, who were expecting the government to tone down the official message on the health situation as the Olympics near.

 Around 75% of the Japanese support a further postponement or even cancelation of the Tokyo Olympics due to the pandemic, according to a survey by the Kyodo news agency published over the weekend.

Due to the border restrictions in Japan, which essentially bar foreigners from entering the country, authorities have been forced to cancel or postpone some events scheduled in the Asian country, including Paralympic-qualifying competitions.  

Most recently, the Paralympic jumping and open water tests initially scheduled in Tokyo on April 18-22 were postponed to early May and late June respectively.

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