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Japan’s medical head says vaccine needed quickly to help stage Olympics

Yoshitake Yokokura said the Games are possible only if the infections are under control not only in Japan but globally.

The Tokyo Olympics were postponed until July of 2021, but is that date in jeopardy?
The Tokyo Olympics were postponed until July of 2021, but is that date in jeopardy?Jae C. Hong/Associated Press

The head of Japan’s medical association said it will be difficult to hold the Olympics without coronavirus vaccines, and that he hoped effective vaccines or drugs to treat COVID-19 will be developed quickly.

“In my view, it would be difficult to hold the Olympics unless effective vaccines are developed,” Japan Medical Association President Yoshitake Yokokura told a video press conference Tuesday in Tokyo. “I hope vaccines and drugs will be developed as soon as possible.”

Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Games until July next year due to the global coronavirus pandemic. Japan is under a month-long state of emergency amid the rapid increase of the infections across the country, where hospitals are overburdened and causing fears of the collapse of the medical systems.

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Yokokura said the Games are possible only if the infections are under control not only in Japan but globally. He did not say whether he opposes the Olympics without vaccines.

“The key is a situation with the infections at that point [when the Games are planned]. If the infections are under control only in Japan, it will still be difficult to hold the Games unless the pandemic is over in the rest of the world,” Yokokura said.

Experts have said it could take a couple of years or longer to develop vaccines that are safe and effective for clinical use.

Japan has 13,576 cases, as well as 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year, with 389 deaths, the health ministry said Tuesday.