Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto speaks during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games executive board meeting in Tokyo, Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (Behrouz Mehri/Pool Photo via AP)

Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto speaks during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games executive board meeting in Tokyo, Tuesday, June 8, 2021. (Behrouz Mehri/Pool Photo via AP)

All roads — blocked off roads — lead to Tokyo Olympics

Only 45 days away from opening ceremony

TOKYO (AP) — Roads were being closed off Tuesday around Tokyo Olympic venues, including the new $1.4 billion National Stadium where the opening ceremony is set for July 23.

This is a clear sign that Tokyo Olympic planners and the International Olympic Committee are moving forward despite public opposition, warnings about the risks of the games becoming a spreader event, and Tokyo and other parts of Japan being under a state of emergency until June 20.

“Today we are only 45 days away from the opening ceremony, although the state of emergency is in effect and the situation remains severe nationwide,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto told an executive board meeting Tuesday. “The number of new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo has started to decrease little by little and we strongly hope the situation will be under control as soon as possible.”

New infections in Tokyo are down to around 500 cases a day from 1,000 a month ago. The number of hospitalizations and the seriously ill have also decreased, but the levels are still higher than last fall when COVID-19 variants were not prevalent in Japan.

Experts last week on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s pandemic panel said that movement of people in central Tokyo had been rising for three weeks. They warned new infections could rebound if people continue to increase their mobility.

The prime minister’s office said 3.66 per cent of Japanese people were fully vaccinated as of Monday. It said 10.7 per cent had at least one shot in what has been a slow vaccine rollout.

Japan has attributed about 13,500 deaths to COVID-19, good by some standards but not as low as many countries in Asia.

Dr. Hiroshi Oshitani, a virologist at Tohoku University and a government adviser, reminded about the potential spread of infection in Japan and in other countries after the Olympics.

“The government and the IOC … keep saying they’re holding a safe Olympics,” Oshitani was quoted saying in the Times of London. “But everybody knows there is a risk. It’s 100 per cent impossible to have an Olympics with zero risk.”

Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the organizing committee, warned that media entering Japan from abroad could be monitored by GPS to make sure they follow the rules that will be spelled out in the third edition of the so-called Playbooks due out later this month.

Muto said media would be tested twice before they left home, and for several days after they enter Japan. He said they would have to sign a “pledge” to follow the rules, and would be restricted from free movement for the first 14 days.

“If any violations are found, measures such as suspension or deprivation of accreditation and deportation proceedings will be strictly applied,” Muto said.

He said reporters’ phones could be tracked with GPS to see if rules had been broken.

“We can use the GPS and if they’re going to places outside the business destinations, that will become very apparent,” he said. “After 14 days they can engage in the normal media activity and coverage.”

He did not clarify if the strict tracking will apply to tens of thousands of others who will enter Japan for the Olympics and Paralympics, including IOC officials, officials of national Olympic committees and sports federations, broadcasters, and others arriving to work as contractors at the games.

Pushback against the Olympics remains strong with 50-80 per cent opposed to the games going ahead depending how the question is phrased. Saitama prefecture, just north of Tokyo, on Monday called off plans for two public viewing areas.

Kaori Yamaguchi, an Olympic bronze medalist for Japan in judo in 1988 and a Japanese Olympic Committee board member, wrote last week that Tokyo and Japan had been “cornered” into holding the Olympics.

The IOC is pressing ahead, reliant on broadcast rights for 73 per cent of its income.

Japan has officially spent $15.4 billion to organize the Olympics, and government audits say it’s much larger. All but $6.7 billion is private money. The IOC’s overall contribution is about $1.5 billion.

In the latest numbers provided by local organizers, 11,090 Olympians are lined up to enter Tokyo. In addition, 59,000 other people will enter for the Olympics for a total of 70,090.

They include: Olympic Family (3,000); national Olympic committees (14,800); international sports federations (4,500); Olympic Broadcasting Service and other broadcasters (16,700); media (5,500); others (14,500).

The Paralympics involve 4,400 athletes, plus 19,000 more in categories similar to the Olympic breakdown for a total of 23,400.

Combined, that is 93,490 people for both events. Organizers say the number is 50 per cent less than the original forecast of 180,000 entering for the Paralympics and Olympics.

Although organizers confirmed those numbers, Muto suggested 105,000 people might be the total number for the Olympics and Paralympics. Organizers did not offer immediate clarification.

By The Associated Press

Olympics

Just Posted

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney arrives at the 2021 budget in Edmonton on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta launches COVID vaccine lottery with million-dollar prizes to encourage uptake

The premier says the lottery will offer three prizes worth $1 million a piece, as well as other prizes

Dharmesh Goradia, and his daughter Vidhi and wife Chaitali, at the 2017 festival for the Godess Durga, held at the Golden Circle. (Photo contributed)
Draft curriculum misses the mark for central Alberta Hindu society

Meeting scheduled with Alberta Education officials

Air Canada planes sit on the tarmac at Pearson International Airport during the COVID-19 pandemic in Toronto on Wednesday, April 28, 2021. Air Canada says it will recall more than 2,600 employees who were furloughed during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Alberta’s tourism sector hurt by COVID-19 pandemic: ATB Financial

Between border closures, public health measures and hesitancy to travel, Alberta’s tourism… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Indigenous Services Minister Marc Miller is seen during a news conference, Wednesday May 19, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Indigenous child-welfare battle heads to court despite calls for Ottawa to drop cases

Feds are poised to argue against two Canadian Human Rights Tribunal rulings

The Great Ogopogo Bathtub Race has been held in Summerland as a fundraising event. Do you know which Canadian city introduced this sport? (Black Press file photo)
QUIZ: A summer’s day at the water

How much do you know about boats, lakes and water?

A man wears a face mask as he walks by a sign for a COVID-19 vaccination site in Montreal, Sunday, May 16, 2021, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues in Canada and around the world. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Canada paid a premium to get doses from Pfizer earlier than planned

OTTAWA — Canada paid a premium to get more than 250,000 doses… Continue reading

The Kamloops Indian Residential School in Kamloops, B.C., is shown in this 1930 handout photo. HO — Deschatelets-NDC Archives
Calls grow for Ottawa to review settlement decisions for residential school survivors

Lawyer Teri Lynn Bougie still cries when she talks about the final… Continue reading

Syringes are readied at a COVID-19 mobile vaccination clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, Friday, April 30, 2021 in Montreal. Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for Canada to donate some of its doses to other countries or international aid organizations and in at least three cases, for the doses to be resold.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canada’s vaccine contracts allow for doses to be donated, in some cases resold

OTTAWA — Most of the federal contracts for COVID-19 vaccines allow for… Continue reading

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, President of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, responds to the report on the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, in Vancouver, on Monday June 3, 2019. As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after the Tk'emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced it had located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs said he feels a connection with the former students. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Two sides of the same coin: Ex-foster kids identify with residential school survivors

VANCOUVER — As stories of the horrors of residential schools circulate after… Continue reading

A woman sits and weeps at the scene of Sunday's hate-motivated vehicle attack in London, Ont. on Tuesday, June 8, 2021. Four members of a family in London, Ont., are set to be buried today. The public has been invited to help celebrate the lives of Talat Afzaal, 74, her son Salman Afzaal, 46, his wife Madiha Salman, 44, and their 15-year-old daughter Yumna Salman.THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Geoff Robins
Funeral to be held today for London family killed in attack

LONDON, Ont. — Four members of a Muslim family killed in what… Continue reading

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden listen to United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson deliver opening remarks at a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, United Kingdom Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau to discuss foreign policy with G7 leaders at second day of summit meeting

CARBIS BAY, CORNWALL, ENGLAND — Foreign policy is on the agenda for… Continue reading

Most Read