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Japanese Researcher: Tokyo 2020 at Risk Without COVID-19 Vaccine

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People wearing protective face masks, following an outbreak of the coronavirus, are seen in front of the Giant Olympic rings at the waterfront area at Odaiba Marine Park in Tokyo, Japan, February 27, 2020. Photo: Athit Perawongmetha | Reuters

By Nancy Gillen |

A Japanese medical expert has claimed next year’s Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo are at risk without a COVID-19 vaccine.

Professor Yoshiharu Matsuura from the Research Foundation for Microbial Disease of Osaka University said the Japanese Government was focusing on developing a vaccine to ensure Tokyo 2020 could happen. 

“In Japan, the Government is putting a large emphasis on vaccine development and a medicine for the virus because of the Olympics,” he said to Sky News.

“They want to push ahead with the Olympics next year and they are saying the only way for that to happen is the vaccine.”

Work to develop a COVID-19 vaccine has been progressing at a rapid pace around the world, with Russian President Vladimir Putin claiming that a vaccine had been developed in his country. 

This has been met with skepticism, however, and Matsuura also warned against rushing a vaccine, even though Tokyo 2020 may be dependent on it.

“The safety of the vaccine needs time to prove itself,” he said.

“A regular vaccine development takes 10 years and they are saying to do it in a year. 

“This is scary.

“So it’s really warp speed, super express train – I find it slightly unnerving.”

Japan is thought to have dealt with the coronavirus pandemic well, but is currently dealing with a rise in cases. 

So far, the country has reported more than 54,700 coronavirus cases and 1,088 deaths. 

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in Japan and around the world, the Tokyo 2020 Olympics were delayed by a year and are now scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8.

They are due to be followed by the Paralympics from August 24 to September 5.

Coronavirus countermeasures are viewed as key to the Games taking place next year following their postponement.

The process will be led by the Japanese Government as part of a three-party council, which will also feature the Tokyo Metropolitan Government and the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee.

Meetings are set to begin this autumn to determine the “robust countermeasures” which are expected to be announced by the end of 2020. 

With thousands of athletes due to arrive from across the world to take part in the Games, the health situation outside Japan will also need to improve if they are to go ahead.  

Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.

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