A major Japanese medical group said Monday the Tokyo Summer Games should be canceled because medical centers that treat COVID-19 are “already full and there is almost no room to spare” for an influx of visitors.
The Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association’s open letter to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga adds to the public outcry over plans to forge ahead with the games from July 23 to Aug. 8 under safety protocols that ban foreign fans and require frequent testing of athletes.
“As a group of about 6,000 doctors in Tokyo who protect the lives and health of the citizens of Tokyo, we strongly urge the [International Olympic Committee] to discuss the difficulty of holding [the games] and draw out a decision to cancel,” the doctors wrote in a letter dated Friday and posted Monday. “The medical institutions dealing with COVID-19 have their hands full and have almost no spare capacity.”
Japan was not crushed by the virus, like other nations, but Tokyo and other prefectures are under a state of emergency until May 31 because of a surge in cases. Its vaccine rollout has been sluggish, with less than 4% of its population immunized so far, according to trackers.
The doctors said hospitalizations for heat exhaustion will rise over the summer, and the Olympics will exacerbate stress on the medical system.
“It is inevitable that a large number of heat-stroke patients will occur, and medical institutions will need to isolate and examine each of these patients until they can be distinguished from COVID-19,” the doctors wrote. “However, the doctors and nurses of the corresponding medical institutions are already exhausted, and there is no room for treatment facilities or human resources.”