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Tokyo 2020: Maneuvering in a minefield

Published on April 19th, 2021

Tokyo, Japan (April 19, 2021) – The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated, causing concern about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that are scheduled to open in just over three months.

Taro Kono, the minister in charge of the vaccine rollout, said last week that even if the Olympics go on, it’s possible the venues will be empty. This is partly because of the low vaccination rate.

Fans from abroad are already banned from the Olympics, and it’s hard to imagine venues even half-filled with mostly unvaccinated fans. Many non-Japanese entering Japan are expected to be vaccinated.

Q: Are Japanese athletes being vaccinated?

A: This is a minefield for the organizers and the Japanese government. It will be very unpopular to push young, healthy athletes to the front of the vaccination line when almost no one else in Japan is vaccinated. Traffic on social media is strongly opposed.

Kono, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said the government so far has not issued any plans to vaccinate athletes.

However, Kono has said he is ready to deliver vaccines if Hashimoto and the government think they’re needed.

“So far, there is no consultation or no action about Japanese athletes getting vaccine,” he said.

Marukawa said last week the government is considering testing all athletes daily. Previous plans had called for virus tests every four days. That change may show up when the second version of the “Playbook” is published this month.

The IOC has said vaccines are not required to participate. However, IOC President Thomas Bach has openly encouraged athletes to be vaccinated. Of course, that causes conflict when athletes are a priority ahead of vulnerable populations.

Q: Tokyo organizers have repeatedly said the Olympics will be safe and secure. Last week the British Medical Journal challenged this. Who is responsible if they are not? – Full report

Tokyo 2020 Olympic Sailing Program
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Women’s One Person Dinghy – Laser Radial
Men’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Women’s Two Person Dinghy – 470
Men’s Skiff – 49er
Women’s Skiff – 49erFx
Men’s One Person Dinghy Heavy – Finn
Men’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Women’s Windsurfing – RS:X
Mixed Multihull – Nacra 17

Original dates: July 24 to August 9, 2020
Revised dates: July 23 to August 8, 2021


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