Countdown to Tokyo Olympics, the most controversial and special in history to be celebrated in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century. After its one-year postponement, they will begin next week behind closed doors so that the coronavirus does not spread further, which is registering its maximum numbers of infections since January in the Japanese capital and which has already penetrated the Olympic Village. Yesterday the first case of Covid-19 in the mythical venue six days after the inauguration of the jousts.
There is a person inside the villa. It is the first case registered within the town and it was detected upon arrival, “he said. Masa takaya, spokesperson for the organizing committee of the Games, at a press conference. As reported, this is a foreign citizen who is the first positive case to be confirmed among the Olympic delegates, although he is not an athlete, according to the local radio NHK.
For the third consecutive day, more than a thousand new cases of Covid-19 were detected in Tokyo yesterday. Specifically, 1,271. Although they were a few less than the 1,308 the day before, the highest number in the last six months, they reflect the rebound in the epidemic caused by the dreaded variant Delta, more contagious than the previous ones and detected for the first time in India.
Throughout Japan, which has 126 million inhabitants, the daily number of daily infected is now between 2,500 and just over 3,000. Although they are ten times less than what is registered in Spain, for the Japanese they are alarming figures for their control of the coronavirus after its outbreak in Wuhan last year. After keeping it at bay since then, the Covid-19 disease began to spiral out of control in January and had another spike in May, with 8,000 cases a day both times. As a consequence, more than three-quarters of the 15,000 deaths caused by the coronavirus have taken place in 2021. In addition to the lack of preparation and alert because the two waves last year were mild, is added the low rate of vaccination in Japan, where less than a third of the population has received the first dose and those who have the full regimen do not reach 20 percent.
Fear in the face of illusion
With 18,000 athletes and Olympic committee members coming from around the world, the Japanese fear that the Games will be one of those so-called ‘super-spreading’ events that trigger the pandemic. More than the massive tests and curfews, the suspension or limitation of these events was the argument that the Japanese authorities used last year to explain their “quiet success” against the coronavirus. But in the Olympic Games There are so many interests involved, especially on television for sports broadcasts, that they have not dared to cancel them despite strong social opposition. According to the latest polls, 83 percent of the Japanese are against its celebration and the majority believe that the necessary security measures are not being taken to prevent spikes.
Among them are the fourth state of emergency decreed in Tokyo since the pandemic broke out, which has forced the Games to be held without spectators and restricts the hours of bars and restaurants and serve alcohol. In addition to holding most competitions behind closed doors, medals will not be imposed on the winners at these Games, they will be displayed on a tray to avoid physical contact.
In order to counter the strong rejection, the President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Thomas Bach, has been in Tokyo since last week greeting the arrival of the athletes. After coming out of his quarantine for a few days, he asked for Japanese support for the Games and insisted on the authorities to allow the public to enter if contagions decrease. “These are the best prepared Games and our goal is safety for all,” Bach said, according to the Kyodo News agency. But he made a slip that, although immediately corrected, has earned him the hatred of the Japanese, whom he mistook for Chinese. Trying to win their sympathy, Bach traveled to Hiroshima on Friday to commemorate the victims of the atomic bomb, but found about fifty ‘hibakusha’ (survivors) protesting against what they considered an attempt to politicize their cause against nuclear weapons. .
With hardly any media coverage, the athletes continue to arrive at the Olympic Village in their bubble not only physical to prevent infections, but also psychological to isolate themselves from the controversy. Their stay has been limited to entering five days before competing and leaving two after their participation, but several positives have already been detected in the delegations of Uganda, Serbia and Israel that have forced the isolation of some of their members. For those who travel to Japan to attend the Games, like this correspondent, it is mandatory to present two negative PCR tests taken 96 and 72 hours before taking the flight, as well as another upon arrival and follow a quarantine of at least three days. In addition to almost daily controls, movements will be limited to the hotel and the Olympic facilities and public transport will not be able to be taken, at least the first two weeks. And at the opening on Friday at the Olympic Stadium Consideration is being given to reducing the number of personalities from 10,000 to less than a thousand. All as long as the countdown of the Games does not bring a count forward of coronavirus infections.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism