A prominent Japanese virologist and government consultant have warned of the dangers of spreading Covid-19 infections during the Tokyo Olympics, the latest high-profile cautionary note concerning the global athletic event.
Hiroshi Oshitani, a professor at Tohoku University, was one of Japan's "Three Cs" pandemic strategy architects, which advice avoiding closed rooms, crowds, and close contact scenarios.
“The administration and organizing committee, including the International Olympic Committee (IOC), keep claiming that the Olympics would be safe. However, everyone is aware that there is a risk. It's impossible to have an Olympics with no risk of infection spreading in Japan and other nations after the Olympics," says Oshitani.
"There are a few countries where there aren't many cases and others where there aren't any variants. We should not use the Olympics as an opportunity to infect these countries with the virus," he went on to say adding that most countries lack immunizations.
Despite widespread fears that the Games, which were already postponed from last year due to the epidemic, could spread the coronavirus and drain medical resources, a scaled-down version of the Games with no foreign spectators is being planned to begin on July 23.
Although Japan has not experienced the same level of devastation as other countries, it has had roughly 7,60,000 cases and more than 13,500 deaths. After a fourth wave hit, Tokyo and other areas are in a state of emergency, putting hospitals under strain.
Shigeru Omi, the government's top medical adviser, said last week that medical experts were working on a statement on the Games by June 20, when the state of emergency is due to be removed.
The public in Japan is still split on whether or not the Games should be held. However, resistance looks to be waning. TBS polled viewers this week, and 55 percent said the Games should be postponed or cancelled, down ten points from last month.