Does The Epidemic Jeopardize The Organization Of The Tokyo Olympics?

THE WASHINGTON POST.- The Japanese Olympic organizers knew that the temperature during the July Olympics would be overwhelming. What they did not know was that an epidemic of great proportions would force them to take the temperature of athletes and spectators when they entered the stadiums in Tokyo 2020. The cruel irony is that just before the outbreak of coronavirus broke out, Japan was suffering from another Olympic fever, but in this case favorable, with a phenomenal demand for tickets to events and a genuine feeling of widespread enthusiasm. Now that enthusiasm is momentarily in the refrigerator. “There are only a few months left and our preparations accelerate, so we have to act firmly to contain the coronavirus, or we will regret it,” said Tokyo governor Yuriko Koike. “I will do absolutely everything in my power to contain this new problem.” The coronavirus is already complicating the pre-Olympic qualifiers, and the concern came to paroxysm in Japanese social networks, when the Buzzap website wondered if the Games should not The information, based on a part of German news about the contacts that the International Olympic Committee would have had with the World Health Organization, was viralized before being denied by Governor Koike. But it was enough for some to ask themselves that question until then unimaginable. Can the fast and lethal coronavirus put the realization of the Games at risk? Will viewers be encouraged to sit next to strangers at the Tokyo Olympic Stadium? What will people feel when they see stadiums full of spectators with chinstrap? Can the Games be held without visitors from China? In 2003-2004, it took six months to eliminate severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), caused by a coronavirus similar to the current one, which manifested itself with symptoms of pneumonia. But less than 6 months after the Games, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus is accelerating and already exceeds the total of SARS cases, even if the death toll remains low. The good news is that pneumonia-like diseases don’t usually survive or spread so much in summer. “Coronaviruses tend to be seasonal,” says Ikuo Tsunoda, a professor of microbiology at the University of Kindai, Japan. “It was also feared that the Zika virus would spread during the Rio 2016 Games, but it did not happen. Knowing that it is a seasonal virus and that the Games are held in the middle of summer, I wonder if at this point it makes sense to worry.” Read More By the Coronavirus different examinations in the airports are made That argument has a small fault: each virus is different, and of the new strain little and nothing is known. “Most of the time, when the ambient temperature is high, respiratory viruses die,” says Yuen Kwok-yung, a SARS expert at the University Hospital of Hong Kong-Shenzhen and a leader in the study of the new strain. “But with a new coronavirus, you never know!” Japan has confirmed some cases of coronavirus. Many of the patients were Wuhan Chinese tourists, but among them there is also a tour guide and a micro driver, as well as three Japanese citizens evacuated from the epicenter city of the epidemic. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said last week before Parliament that the government had decided to raise China’s infectious recommendation to Level 2, urging citizens to make non-urgent trips to that country and completely avoid transfers to Hubei Province. This year, Japan planned to take advantage of the surge of Chinese tourists that usually arrive during the long weekend of the lunar New Year to boost its stagnant economy, but that expectation was punctured as soon as Beijing banned group tours abroad.The virus already complicated some sporting events in China, including the qualifiers for the Games . The World Indoor Athletics Championships, scheduled for March in the city of Nanjing, were postponed for one year, and the first races of the Alpine Skiing World Cup were canceled, which were to be held in Yanqing, which will host the China 2022 Winter Games.The FIBA ​​2020 world Olympic women’s basketball and soccer qualifying tournaments, due in February in China, were moved to Serbia and Australia respectively, while the boxing pre-Olympic for the Asia-Oceania region to be held in Wuhan he moved to Jordan. China has delayed the start of the season of his football Super League, and the International Hockey Federation postponed the Hockey Pro League tournament in that country. The governing body of Formula 1 said it is “monitoring the evolution of the situation” before deciding whether to confirm the Chinese Grand Prix, scheduled for April in Shanghai, but the prospect of moving or postponing the Olympic Games is of a magnitude bleak Japanese government officials say they have included the disease variable in their preparations. “Contagious diseases are always an important planning issue,” says a Tokyo official who prefers to preserve his anonymity, and recalls the concern that the virus generated of Zika on the eve of Rio 2016 and the norovirus outbreak at the 2018 Pyongyang Winter Olympics. “So we are alert.” The Coronavirus worries the International Olympic Committee In the case of Zika, there were no cases linked to the Rio Olympics . In Pyongyang, more than 200 people were diagnosed with norovirus, mostly security personnel and the organization of the Games, but also two Swiss skiers. The H1N1 swine flu virus overshadowed the eve of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games, but did not disturb the performance of the competition. The International Olympic Committee reported that anti-infection measures occupy an important place in the preparations for the meeting in Tokyo. “Tokyo 2020 will continue to collaborate with all relevant organizations that closely monitor the incidence of any infectious and contagious disease and will continue to review any countermeasures that may be In addition, and beyond its own medical experts, the International Olympic Committee is in permanent contact with the World Health Organization, “the IOC informed the newspaper requisition of The Washington Post. Koji Wada, professor of public health from the Tokyo International University of Health and Welfare, he is co-author of a 2018 study that analyzed the public health risks that the tourism influx of the 2020 Games would imply.Wada says there is no time to develop a vaccine against the new Coronavirus strain, but other preventive measures can be taken You go based on what we know about the mode of transmission of the disease. “It will take the cooperation of public and athletes, but we should be working to be safe hosts of the Games,” he says. Among other measures, he suggests the installation of devices that take the temperature of the attendees upon entering the stadiums. Hitoshi Oshitani, a professor of virology at Tohoku University, says that it is too early to know how long the outbreak will last, but qualifies the worrying situation. “There could even be a regrowth in the middle of the Games,” says Oshitani. “We have to be very prepared for that eventuality. It is not unthinkable that it will happen.” But for now Japan is moving towards the Games at full steam, taking possible precautions and trusting that everything will work out. Organizers have already sold 4.5 million tickets to residents of Japan through public draws, but the demand is unstoppable and there are more than 80 million orders waiting. The number of tickets sold to foreign visitors was not disclosed.Simon Denyer and Akiko KashiwagiTranslation: Jaime ArrambideIn Tokyo they say they will take “rigorous measures” Yuriko Koike, governor of Tokyo, promised to take “rigorous measures” of protection. “We will put in place even stricter measures to fight infectious diseases,” said Koike, during the inauguration of the Ariake Arena, a $ 330 million building for the volleyball and Paralympic basketball competitions. “I have had conversations over the weekend with senior officials to ensure the protection of people in Tokyo, specifically in measures to prevent the spread of the virus and the reinforcement of the test systems,” he warned. Affected Olympians and a team in Australia The coronavirus caused the suspension of the pre-Olympic boxing and women’s football, which were to be played in Wuhan. Nanjing is the new destination chosen. The Chinese women’s team is isolated in Australia.

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