Tokyo officials said a public-viewing event for the Olympics will be converted into a mass-vaccination site as Japan tries to forge ahead with the Summer Games amid cries for cancellation due to coronavirus surges.
It is unclear if organizers will use Yoyogi Park for any screenings this summer.
“It depends on the coronavirus situation, but we will first concentrate on vaccinations,” Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike said.
Officials said screenings for the Olympics that begin in late July will be canceled but Paralympics screenings by late August could still be in play, according to a Jiji Press report.
The conversion is another symbol of the challenges that have dogged the games.
With the Olympics already postponed for a year, doctors’ groups and public petitioners say it is foolhardy to let global visitors descend on Tokyo amid spikes in cases and a sluggish vaccine rollout — even if the International Olympic Committee and the local government banned foreign fans and put in place testing regimens for athletes.
The use of Yoyogi Park has been a flashpoint. Tree cutters pruned branches to accommodate the Olympic Live Zone, prompting protesters to complain about changes to the park’s ecology.
Only about 5% of Japan’s population is vaccinated for COVID-19 after a sluggish start to the campaign. Officials are scrambling to make up ground ahead of the Olympics, opening mass-vaccination sites in Tokyo, Osaka and other cities.
Australia’s women’s softball team arrived in Japan on Tuesday, making them among the first athletes to get settled before the beleaguered games.
They will be confined to a section of their hotel in the city of Ota and their training grounds before they transfer to the Olympic Village in July.