Japan says vaccination not required for Olympics

by BERNAMA /Pic by AFP

ANKARA – Japan on Tuesday said vaccination is not a requirement for participating in the upcoming Olympic Games, which were delayed last year due to the pandemic, Anadolu Agency reported.

“We are considering comprehensive measures to hold safe and secure games, even without making vaccines a condition,” Katsunobu Kato, the chief Cabinet secretary of the Japanese government, told a news conference.

Japan was set to host the Olympics last year but the world’s biggest games were delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is adamant to go ahead with the Olympics and Paralympics this year to be held from late July through early September.

A survey conducted by Kyodo News found at least 80 per cent of respondents seeking rescheduling of the games.

Last week, the head of the Tokyo Olympics organising committee said it is “absolutely impossible” to postpone this year’s Summer Olympics even amid the novel coronavirus.

“Having even a slight sense of uncertainty impacts everything. All I can say is that we will go ahead with our preparations,” Yoshiro Mori said.

The Tokyo Olympics is estimated to cost US$15.8 billion.

In recent months, Japan has witnessed surges in COVID-19 infections, mostly in the capital Tokyo, where the games are scheduled to be held.

Suga’s government imposed a state of emergency once again in several provinces to allow central and local authorities to handle the pandemic.

Tokyo reported 1,240 new infections of the coronavirus on Tuesday — over 1,000 cases for the seventh consecutive day — while the tally hit 87,914 in the capital.

The government plans to begin vaccinations by late February starting with medical workers and elderly people.

“I will do everything in my power to ensure safe and effective vaccines can be given to as many people as possible, as quickly as possible,” said Taro Kono, who was appointed on Monday to lead Japan’s battle against the coronavirus.

He is also holding serving as the administrative reform minister in Suga’s Cabinet.

Japan has signed agreements with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, and Moderna to receive vaccines for its people by the first half of this year.

The country has seen 335,795 infections, including at least 4,370 deaths, according to the US-based John Hopkins University.