Tokyo Games could lead to Olympic coronavirus variant: Japanese doctor

Singapore: The head of a Japanese doctors’ union has warned that holding the Olympic Games in Tokyo this summer could lead to the emergence of an “Olympic” strain of the coronavirus.

Naoto Ueyama, head of the Japan Doctors Union said that with people from more than 200 nations and territories set to arrive, the Games pose a danger. He warned that all of the different mutant strains of the virus which exist in different places will be concentrated in Tokyo and the possibility of a new strain of the virus emerging cannot be denied.

However, Kenji Shibuya, director of the Institute of Population Health at King’s College, London, who has recently been helping the vaccination campaign in Japan, played down dangers specific to the Games. He said that mutation takes place when virus stays in partially immunised people for a long period of time. He opined that the current situation in Japan is more dangerous than during the Tokyo Games.

Japan has pledged to hold a safe and secure 2020 Olympics in Tokyo after a year-long postponement. However, it is struggling to contain a fourth wave of infections and preparing to extend a state of emergency in much of the country. Japanese officials, Olympics organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have all vowed the Games will go ahead, albeit under strict virus-prevention measures. Foreign spectators have been banned and a decision on domestic ones is expected next month.

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