Japanese Olympic athletes start getting vaccines – as just 2-3% of general public receive both doses
Amid a backlash, as members of the public still await vaccines and are against the hosting of the Tokyo 2020 games, the Japanese Olympic Committee confirmed on Tuesday that Japan has begun giving jabs to its athletes.
Japanese Olympic Committee officials refused to name any of the athletes that have received their Covid jabs, but did say that around 200 of them had been vaccinated at a special training center on what was the first day of a rollout program.
But as only 2-3% of Japan's aging general population have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, authorities restricted coverage in fear of a public backlash, which has already given birth to protests outside the capital's National Stadium in recent weeks.
Speaking on the matter, the Japanese Olympic Committee's Mitsugi Ogata said that the vaccination of younger athletes wouldn't affect distribution for the general population, which includes the elderly and medical staff.
"Vaccination operations for athletes are conducted in a different organization from those for the nation," he stressed.
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The games are set for a July 23 start, and while the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has outlined that being vaccinated isn't a requirement for participation, it has encouraged every athlete representing their country to go ahead and do so.
The organization's president, Thomas Bach, has stated his belief that over 80% of Olympic Village residents in Tokyo will have received protection against the virus, with 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes across 200 countries expected to descend on it joined by thousands of officials, members of the media and broadcasters.
Yet despite such guarantees and insistences that having athletes vaccinated and no foreign fans present will make the Japanese populous feel safety has increased with respect to the Olympics, opinion polls continue to demonstrate widespread opposition to the showpiece event.
Just a fortnight ago, fresh surveys from The Asahi Shimbun, found that 43% of participants wanted the Olympics completely canceled while 40% sought another postponement until Japan's Covid situation has improved.
These figures were an increase on the 35% who previously supported cancelation when that same paper did a poll in April, at the same time 34% wished for further delays.
Overall, from 4,718 of people asked for their thoughts, a low 14% showed a desire to hold the games next month, which was down from 28%.
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At the Kyodo News Agency, which previously spread reports that athletes would receive vaccination preference which were denied but now proven to be true, 59.7% backed cancelation as postponement wasn't an option.
And in the highest numbers discovered anywhere, 87.7% worried an influx of foreign athletes and staff would spread the coronavirus.
Defiant to the last, the IOC vows its event will be "safe and secure" while following strict World Health Organization guidance.
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