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Japanese expert says difficult to hold Olympics without COVID-19 vaccine

Tokyo, Apr 28 (efe-epa).- If an effective vaccine against COVID-19 is not developed, it will be extremely difficult to hold the Olympic Games in 2021, the president of the Japan Medical Association (JMA) warned Tuesday.

Yoshitake Yokokura reviewed the tools Japan has at its disposal to combat the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and mentioned the decision taken by the Tokyo 2020 organizers to postpone the Olympic Games, scheduled to begin this year on July 24, to 2021.

The Games are now scheduled to begin on July 23, 2021, which the organizers believe would provide sufficient time to deal with the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Unless an effective vaccine is developed I think it will be difficult to hold the Olympics next year,” Yokokura said at a video press conference from the headquarters of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan in Tokyo.

“I am not saying that Japan should or shouldn’t host the Olympics, but that it would be difficult to do so,” he added.

The JMA president expressed the need for accelerated global efforts to develop better drugs to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus as well as the development of an effective vaccine.

But Yokokura avoided clarifying whether the Japan Medical Association was opposed to the holding of the Olympic Games from July 23, 2021 if a vaccine was not available by then.

He explained that he could not offer an opinion on this without knowing the global situation in the run-up to the Games, since, although Japan may have controlled the spread of the novel coronavirus, the situation in other countries would also have to be taken into account.

Yokokura’s warning comes about a week after Japanese infectious diseases specialist Kentaro Iwata said he did not believe the Olympic Games could be held in the summer of 2021 as planned.

“Holding (the) Olympics needs two conditions, one: controlling COVID-19 in Japan and (two) controlling COVID-19 everywhere, because you have to invite the athletes and the audience from all over the world,” Iwata said during an online press conference.

“Japan might be able to control this disease by next summer, I wish we could, but I don’t think that would happen everywhere on Earth,” he added.

COVID-19 cases in Japan have risen progressively since the sporting event was postponed to about 13,613 infected and 407 deaths, according to Japanese public broadcaster NHK. EFE-EPA

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