Japanese doctors call for Tokyo 2020 Games to be canceled amid worsening outbreak

A protester holds a placard during a demonstration against the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, May 17, in Tokyo, Japan.
A protester holds a placard during a demonstration against the Tokyo Olympics on Monday, May 17, in Tokyo, Japan. Yuichi Yamazaki/Getty Images

With just two months until the Tokyo 2020 Games begin, a major Japanese doctors’ group is calling for the delayed event to be canceled over fears that the influx of people will exacerbate an already worsening outbreak in the country.

The Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association warned that the country’s healthcare system could not cope with the medical needs of thousands of athletes, coaches and press on top of the existing surge in Covid-19 cases.

“The most important priority now is to fight against COVID-19 and to secure people’s lives and livelihoods. The virus is spreading with the movement of people. Japan will bear a big responsibility if the hosting of the Olympic and Paralympic Games contributes to the spread of COVID-19 and increases the number of sufferers and deaths,” the association said in a letter sent to Japan’s Prime Minister, the minister for the Olympic games, Tokyo’s governor and the Japanese Olympic committee chairman.

The association is at least the second group of Japanese doctors to demand that the Olympics and Paralympics be cancelled, as opposition to the Games mounts.

Last week, members of a national doctors’ union presented a written request to Japan’s Health Ministry calling for the Prime Minister to cancel the Games. “It’s tough for the athletes but someone has to say that the Games should be canceled. We made the request (to the government) as we think medical workers have to speak up,” said Naoto Ueyama, the head of the union, in a press conference on Thursday. 

A petition calling for the cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics which garnered 350,000 signatures in nine days was submitted to organizers on Friday and protests were held in Tokyo Monday night.

However, Olympic officials maintain the Games, scheduled for July, can be held, with World Athletics president Seb Coe saying he is confident the Tokyo Olympics can be held in a safe way.

“Should we have the Games? Yes, we should. Can we have them safely and secure? I believe we can,” Coe, a four-time Olympic medalist and president of World Athletics since 2015, told CNN Sport on Monday.

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