The Olympic flame is burning across Japan and athletes around the world are ramping up their training programs, but with 100 days before the postponed match in Tokyo 2020 finally opens, the home Its organization faces major challenges.
The most headache problem is the emerging coronavirus, with countries like India and Brazil battling with new variants and new increases in the number of cases and the continued border restrictions on the virus. interrupt many qualifying events.
In Japan, the country’s immunization program is the slowest among the developed economies, with Tokyo entering and exiting soft lock measures and facing a spike in numbers. case.
On Wednesday, the head of the Tokyo Medical Association warned that increased infections could make hosting the Olympics “really difficult.”
An increase in cases in the city of Osaka, which has forced organizers to change plans for the Olympic torch relay ceremony, which started in Fukushima last month, with the event shifting to a closed course at an empty park there is an audience.
Foreign audiences have been banned from the Olympics, which opened on July 23, but the organizers have yet to decide how to deal with any domestic spectators.
“The situation is constantly changing. Even in the last few months, the coronavirus situation has changed massively, and it will continue to do so, and it is difficult to continue preparing as we don’t know what the situation will be in the future, ”Hidemasa Nakamura , leader. The Organizing Committee officially oversees the logistics preparations for the Sports Festival.
At Wednesday’s Olympic 100-day ceremony, Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said she was determined to make the event a success despite the hardships.
“The war against an invisible foe, the coronavirus, was the cause of the one-year delay (Tokyo Olympics to 2021),” said Koike, “and it’s a huge challenge for humanity. “I want us to overcome the battle against the coronavirus and make the Olympics a memorable event.”
Athletes also seem impatient for a return to the international arena.
“The past 14 months have been a huge motivator for all of us,” five-time Olympic gold medal winner Katie Ledecky, who represents the United States, said last week.
“When we get there, we really want to show the world all the work we’ve put in.”
In Japan, swimmer Rikako Ikee added an added comfort factor to a place in the Olympic relay team just two years after being diagnosed with leukemia.
The organizers are promising a “safe and secure” event.
Although participants will not be required to undergo quarantine or vaccination, many countries have already started vaccinating their teams, and the International Olympic Committee has guaranteed Chinese-made dosage for athletes. Encouragement in countries does not have access to them.
Competitors will be in the athletes village in Tokyo’s Chuo ward, where 15,000 people are expected from more than 200 countries and will have regular virus checks. The organizers planned 126,000 volunteers to shepherd athletes and spectators around the city.
“The medical system is too stressful. Our local health center cannot take care of those athletes in the village, ”said Hideki Hayakawa, director of the Olympic coordination unit in Chuo ward.
Hayakawa said atheist athletes’ care for medical needs and other issues are still being negotiated with the Tokyo government.
The #OlympicTorchRelay now traveling around Japan like a ray of hope. #Tokyo is currently in the final preparation stage, so mark your calendar for everyone – 100 days from now until the Olympics # Tokyo2020! pic.twitter.com/hKbbmQqYUt
– Tokyo Government (@Tokyo_gov) April 14, 2021
– Nadia Comaneci (@ nadiacomaneci10) April 14, 2021
Nakamura’s group created the first “play” with COVID-19 countermeasures for Olympic visitors, including rules prohibiting visiting shops and restaurants. Athletes who violate the protocol may be banned from competition.
The next update to the rules is expected this month, he said.
Feel the heat
Nakamura said that summer temperatures and humidity pose another obstacle for Tokyo, and “there will be situations where it is difficult to balance temperature and countermeasures against coronavirus,” such as when people Wearing masks lined up outside the locations.
City official Yoichiro Hara, who oversees preparations on public roads around the sites, added that “symptoms of heat exhaustion may be similar to those of coronavirus.”
Hara said his team is looking into whether medics at first aid stations should wear full protective gear but with difficulty assessing the prevalence of the virus in July and has yet to be decided. in terms of audience numbers, they cannot decide how. More stations are needed.
Some local organizers complained that the news from Tokyo was slow and they learned about key developments from the media. Others, like Mie Watanabe, get ready to take the course of a road race in Oyama, a city 90 km (56 miles) southwest of Tokyo, months worried the work could go to waste.
“The fact that we don’t know if roadside spectators are allowed in is a big deal for us – it means we won’t need some preparation work,” said Watanabe.
Polls show most Japanese to return or postpone further to the Olympics or cancel, but the number in favor of hosting the event this summer has risen to around 27% in March, from only 11% in January.
“The COVID-19 situation will of course affect the public’s opinion of the Olympics,” the organizers said in advance of the AFP news agency’s question.
They noted that most Olympics faced criticism before they started but said they expected moods to change once the competition began.
“Every time like that, we are inspired by their strength and resilience and it will be more real than ever this year.”