Japanese doctor warns holding Games could lead to "Olympic virus" strain
The head of a Japanese doctors union on Thursday warned holding the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer, with tens of thousands of people gathering from around the world, could lead to the development of a new "Olympic" strain of the coronavirus.
New Delhi: The head of a Japanese doctors union on Thursday warned holding the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer, with tens of thousands of people gathering from around the world, could lead to the development of a new "Olympic" strain of the coronavirus.
Although Japan has repeatedly pledged to hold a "safe and secure" 2020 Olympics in Tokyo after a year-long postponement, it is struggling to contain a fourth wave of the pandemic and preparing to extend a state of emergency that covers much of the country.
Japanese officials, Olympics organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have all vowed the Games will go ahead, albeit under strict virus prevention measures. Foreign spectators have already been banned and a decision on domestic viewers is expected next month.
But even with these steps in place, worries remain about the influx of athletes and officials into Japan, where the vaccine process remains glacially slow and just over 5% of the population have received inoculations.
With people from over 200 nations and territories set to arrive in Tokyo, it will be dangerous to host the Games in July, said Naoto Ueyama, head of the Japan Doctors Union.
"All of the different mutant strains of the virus which exist in different places will be concentrated and gathering here in Tokyo. We cannot deny the possibility of even a new strain of the virus potentially emerging after the Olympics," he told a news conference.
"If such a situation were to arise, it could even mean a Tokyo Olympic strain of the virus being named in this way, which would be a huge tragedy and something which would be the target of criticism even for 100 years."(Reuters)