Tokyo 2020 team says mass vaccination campaign not pre-requisite for go-ahead

Tokyo, Jan 28 (efe-epa).- The organizers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics on Thursday said the Games’ go-ahead did not hinge on mass Covid-19 vaccinations in Japan.

Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said the committee was determined to go ahead with the games this summer under any circumstances, even if it means athletes will be unvaccinated.

It was another message from the committee designed to allay growing speculation that the Games — already delayed by a year due to the pandemic — might be canceled.

Yoshiro Mori, president of the committee, said: “We are confident that any doubts will dissipate on the opening day of the games.”

The head of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, recently offered a similar sentiment, saying organizers were focused on the opening ceremony, slated for 23 July.

“We will not speculate on when they will take place, but how they will take place,” he said.

Japan’s vaccine rollout has been relatively slow compared to its wealthy counterparts like the United States and the United Kingdom. The first vaccines are not due to be administered until February, at which point authorities will focus on healthcare workers and older people.

“We have to be very patient with the preparations for the vaccine,” Muto said, adding that each country had its own medical strategy in dealing with the pandemic.

Organizers have not ruled out the prospect of the games being held behind closed doors, but insist the hosts “do not want to organize a Games without spectators.”

The press conference came as Japanese authorities mull the possibility of extending the existing state of emergency in parts of the country with high Covid-19 rates, which includes Tokyo and Kyoto. EFE-EPA


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