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Cancel Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and redirect critical resources to supporting measures to prevent coronavirus infections

Kurosawa Koichi
Secretary General
the National Confederation of Trade Unions (Zenroren)
May 7, 2021

On May 7, the government decided to extend its third state of emergency declaration to contain the spread of coronavirus infections beyond the current end date (May 11). The measure will be in place until the end of May. The area of the state of emergency will be expanded. The government also decided to expand areas of quasi-state of emergency beyond the current areas. Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide explained the measures at a news conference. He said, “The measures have been successful in reducing the flow of people” but added that they did not help reduce the number of cases of infection and that an increasing number of people are dying after being infected with a coronavirus variant, which is likely to make infected people seriously ill, because they have not been admitted to hospital for treatment. In addition, having to use triage, which could mean selecting lives to save, shows that the medical care system is collapsing.

Vaccinations to contain infections are underway around the country, first for elderly people, but not without confusion due to bad access to the reservation desk. Only 22 percent of healthcare professionals have got vaccinated (as of May 7). This is really abnormal. No one can tell for sure when all Japanese people can get shots. Many people feel uncertain about the current situation as they await information from the local government.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) recently announced that it will provide athletes attending this summer's Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics with doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. The IOC says that vaccination is a measure taken in preparation for the holding of safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games. But in the eye of the people, who are uncertain about when they can get vaccinated and who feel threatened by possible infections, the government is seen putting the Olympic Games first without regard for people’s lives.

The government is asking restaurants and bars to reduce their business in order to avoid people’s close contact and meetings with others. But Tokyo Games-related events are underway, including the Olympic Torch Relay, attracting people’s attention. The Tokyo Organizing Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games is asking the Medical Association to send 200 doctors and the Japan Nursing Association to send 500 nurses to help in the Olympic Games. These policies are inconsistent. They are sending a wrong message to the people. The need now is to take every possible step immediately to prevent the spread of infections to protect people’s safety and to prevent the medical services from collapsing.

Zenroren has been campaigning to save the lives in the Spring Struggle and on other occasions. We hear frontline medical professionals speak about the urgent needs. We strongly call on the government to immediately cancel the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics and focus on anti-coronavirus measures in order to save the lives of our important families, neighbors, and all people around the country

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