Tag Archives: Olympic

Olympic athletes test positive in Tokyo days before Games

Olympic athletes test positive in Tokyo days before Games

A Czech beach volleyball player and a US women’s gymnastics team alternate were confirmed to have COVID-19 Monday.

TOKYO, Japan — A third athlete at the Olympic Village in Tokyo has tested positive for COVID-19, with the Czech Republic team reporting the case Monday of a beach volleyball player who could miss his first game.

A positive case of an alternate for the U.S women’s gymnastics team was confirmed by the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee. Family members and a coach confirmed the affected gymnast was Kara Eaker. Olympic champion Simone Biles was not affected by the result, nor were any of the other gold medal favorites on the team. Eaker has been put in isolation.

Czech beach volleyball player Ondřej Perušič could miss his opening game on Monday after a PCR test confirmed his infection. Perušič and his playing partner are due to the begin their Olympic program against a team from Latvia.

Czech team leader Martin Doktor said in a statement they would ask to postpone the game until the infected player is cleared to play.

Perušič, who said he has been vaccinated, is the second member of the Czech delegation to test positive in Tokyo after a team official’s case was reported Saturday.

He is the third athlete who was staying at the village to test positive. Two South African men’s soccer players had their COVID-19 cases announced Sunday.

The players and a team video analyst who tested positive one day earlier were moved to the “isolation facility” managed by the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee.

Their 21 close contacts around the South Africa team now face extra scrutiny before their first game Thursday against Japan in Tokyo. The monitoring regime includes daily testing, traveling in a dedicated vehicle, training separately from teammates not affected and being confined to their rooms for meals.

“Although you are a close contact, you are able to do the minimum that you need to do so that you can continue your preparation for the Games while you are being monitored,” said Pierre Ducrey, the Olympic Games operations director.

Earlier Monday, before the Czech case was reported, Tokyo Olympic organizers confirmed three new COVID-19 cases, including a media worker arriving in Tokyo and a Games staffer or official in the Chiba prefecture.

Both people, who were not identified, went into a 14-day quarantine, organizers said.

The Tokyo metropolitan authority reported 727 new COVID-19 cases Monday, which was the 30th straight day the tally was higher than the previous week. The count was 502 last Monday.

The games open Friday with no fans in nearly all event venues, including at the opening ceremony, amid a state of emergency in Tokyo, and a slower than hoped for vaccine rollout. Japanese authorities said Monday 21.6% of the nation’s 126 million population is fully vaccinated.

The total of Games-related infections was officially 58 since July 1 before the two new cases were announced. They should be added to the official tally on Tuesday.

These resulted from 22,000 people arriving in Japan since July 1 with 4,000 of those staying in the village, Ducrey said. About 11,000 athletes are scheduled to compete at the Tokyo Olympics.

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This post originally posted here CBS8 – Sports

First resident of Olympic Village tests positive for COVID

First resident of Olympic Village tests positive for COVID

Officials said it was not an athlete, with the Games opening in just under a week on July 23.

TOKYO, Japan — The first resident of the Olympic Village has tested positive for COVID-19, Tokyo Olympic organizers said on Saturday.

Officials said it was not an athlete, with the Games opening in just under a week on July 23.

Tokyo officials including Seiko Hashimoto, the president of the organizing committee, confirmed the case and said the positive test was Friday. Organizers say for confidentiality purposes they can only offer a vague description and few details.

“In the current situation, that positive cases arise is something we must assume is possible,” said Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee.

The person is identified simply as a “games-concerned personnel.” The person is also listed as a non-resident of Japan. Tokyo officials said the person was placed in a 14-day quarantine.

The Olympic Village on Tokyo Bay will house about 11,000 athletes during the Olympics and thousands of other staff.

IOC President Thomas Bach said this week there was “zero” risk of athletes in the village passing on the virus to Japanese or other resident of the village.

Organizers say since July 1 and as of Saturday, 45 people under their “jurisdiction” have tested positive. Only one involves a person in the village and most are identified as “contractors” for Tokyo 2020 and “games-concerned personnel.” The list includes one athlete — who tested positive on July 14 — and three members of the media.

Of the 45, only 12 are listed as “non-resident of Japan.”

Organizers say that athletes and staff who have been away from Tokyo at training camps are excluded from this list and their accounting.

Tokyo officials said they could not give an estimate of the number of people in the village as of Saturday.

New COVID-19 cases on Saturday were reported at 1,410. They were 950 one week ago, and it marks the 28th straight day that cases were higher than a week previous. It was the highest single day since 1,485 on Jan. 21.

IOC President Thomas Bach, as he has done all week in Tokyo, again asked the Japanese to support the Olympics. Opinion polls, depending how the question is asked, show 50-80% want the Olympics postponed again or canceled.

“We are very well aware of the skepticism, obviously that a number of people have here in Japan,” Bach said Saturday in his first large briefing of the Olympics at the main press center in Tokyo. “My appeal to the Japanese people is to welcome these athletes.”

Bach was asked the question about the absence of support at least twice, both times by Japanese reporters.

“Even in Japan there was never 100% support for the Olympic Games or any other event. This is part of democracy,” he said. “You will always have different opinions and, that such a discussion is becoming more heated and more emotional in the situation of a pandemic, is something we have to understand. Many people feel under stress.”

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This post originally posted here CBS8 – Sports

Rare first-place silver medal among Olympic items up for auction

Rare first-place silver medal among Olympic items up for auction

Olympic medals dating to 1896, relay torches from several eras, and other Olympic memorabilia are among the items being auctioned just days before the Tokyo Games.

BOSTON — When the first modern Olympics were held in Athens in 1896, winners did not get gold medals as they will later this month when the Tokyo games get underway. Instead, they got silver, while runners-up got bronze. There were no medals for third place.

One of those exceedingly rare first-place silver medals is for sale in an Olympics-themed auction that opens Thursday.

“Interest is high now with the Tokyo Olympics approaching,” RR Auction Executive Vice President Bobby Livingston said.

The 1896 silver medal is expected to sell for about $ 75,000 given its rarity, Livingston said. Unlike today’s behemoth games with thousands of athletes and hundreds of events, the 1896 Olympiad featured about 250 athletes — all men — from a little more than a dozen nations competing in 10 sports.

A bronze medal from the same year is expected to fetch around $ 40,000.

Unfortunately, who won the medals has been lost to time, Livingston said.

Before the U.S.’s Dream Team of NBA stars dominated the 1992 men’s basketball tournament, there was the almost as dominant 1984 team that featured future NBA stars Michael Jordan, Chris Mullin and Patrick Ewing.

That gold-medal winning team led by former Indiana coach Bobby Knight rolled to an 8-0 record, averaged more than 95 points per game and held their foes to an average of about 63 points per game.

One of those gold medals, with the multi-colored ribbon, is expected to sell for about $ 70,000, RR Auction said.

“Anything from the U.S. basketball team — and the 1980 men’s hockey team — always demands a lot of interest,” Livingston said.

The medal was consigned to the auctioneer by a collector who bought it directly from a member of the team, but exactly who that player is remains confidential, Livingston said.

Some of the other items for sale include a gold medal awarded to Swedish wrestler Ivar Johansson in the 1932 summer games in Los Angeles and a silver won by Bill “Rabbit” Thomson as a member of the Canadian hockey team in the 1936 winter games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany.

The torches for sale include those from the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway; the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid; and the 1976 winter games in Innsbruck, Austria.

One of the more unusual items is a 17-foot wooden kayak used by Rolf Peterson of Sweden to win a gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo games. It will set you back about $ 30,000.

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This post originally posted here CBS8 – Sports

Athlete, Olympic workers test positive for COVID as opening nears

A foreign athlete and five Olympic workers in Japan have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Tokyo 2020 organisers.

The cases, announced on Thursday, marked the latest infections to emerge among people involved with the Summer Games, which are due to begin next week, and have raised new concerns about the spread of coronavirus at the global sporting event.

In a statement on its website, Tokyo 2020 said the six people – which included several contractors – had tested positive for the virus on July 13 and 14. It did not disclose any further details about the athlete or the staffers.

Japan’s NHK broadcaster said the athlete was observing a 14-day period of isolation and has not yet relocated to the Athlete’s Village in Tokyo, where 11,000 athletes will stay and mingle during the games that run from July 23 till August 8.

NHK also said the case marked the “first time that a foreign athlete who is staying at or was heading to a facility managed by the organising committee has been found to have the coronavirus”.

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News of the latest cases came after Russia’s RIA news agency reported on Wednesday that a masseur with the Russian women’s rugby sevens team had been hospitalised after testing positive for COVID-19.

An official in the Russian team’s host town of Munakata, in western Japan, told the AFP news agency that the delegation, which included 16 athletes and 10 staff members, had landed at a Tokyo airport on July 10, and has had no close contact with local officials or residents.

The official said the rest of the Russian team was now quarantining in their accommodation, adding that if they tested negative on Thursday, they would be able to resume training as early as Friday.

COVID cluster at Olympic hotel

Also on Wednesday, a COVID-19 cluster was detected at a hotel hosting Brazilian Olympic team members. Eight staff at the hotel in Hamamatsu city, southwest of Tokyo, were found to have the virus during a routine screening. But a city official told AFP that the 31-strong Brazilian Olympic delegation was in a “bubble” at the hotel, separated from the other guests, and that none of the infected staff had come in contact with the athletes.

Separately, a city official in Kagoshima city said 21 members of the South African rugby team were also in isolation after they came in close contact with a positive case on their flight to Japan. The official said the team was due to stay in the city from Wednesday, but that plan has been halted until further advice from health authorities.

The spreading infections highlight the challenges ahead for organisers, although they note that only a handful of cases have been detected so far among more than 8,000 people who have entered Japan since July 1.

The sporting event is taking place even though the host city, Tokyo, remains under a coronavirus-related state of emergency that will run until after the games end. The Japanese capital is battling a surge in COVID-19 infections, spurred by the highly contagious Delta variant. On Wednesday, it reported 1,149 new COVID-19 cases, the highest figure since January.

Athlete, Olympic workers test positive for COVID as opening nearsBanners of teams from Brazil are seen on a building at the Olympic and Paralympic Village in Tokyo on July 14, 2021, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics which begins on July 23 [Behrouz Mehri/AFP]
Athlete, Olympic workers test positive for COVID as opening nearsPeople walk by the Olympic rings installed by the Nippon Bashi bridge in Tokyo on Thursday, July 15, 2021 [Hiro Komae/AP Photo]

‘Historic games’

The rise in cases, coupled with a sluggish vaccination campaign, has resulted in a loss of public support for the Olympics in Japan, with many fearing the games could trigger a surge of infections and a rise in new variants.

In a bid to allay those fears, Tokyo 2020 organisers have banned all spectators from all Olympic events in the capital and surrounding regions, and have imposed Olympic “bubbles” to restrict contact between visitors and the wider Japanese public. But medical experts are worried that they might not be completely tight as the movement of staff servicing the games can create opportunities for infection.

Thomas Bach, the president of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) who is in Japan for the July 23 opening ceremony, met Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Wednesday and reiterated a pledge to implement measures to avoid bringing “any risks to the Japanese people”.

Bach also told Suga that 85 percent of the participating athletes and 100 percent of IOC members and staff were “vaccinated or immune”. He also praised the organisers and the Japanese people for staging the event amid the pandemic, telling reporters after the meeting that “these will be historic Olympic Games … for the way how the Japanese people overcame so many challenges in the last couple of years”.

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When Japan was awarded the games in 2013, they were expected to be a celebration of recovery from a deadly earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident in 2011.

Japanese leaders had also hoped the rescheduled games this year would help mark a global victory over the coronavirus, but many countries are now struggling with new surges in infections.

An Ipsos poll of 28 countries, released on Tuesday, showed muted global interest in the Tokyo Olympics due to the concerns over COVID-19 in Japan as well as withdrawals of high-profile athletes.

The poll found a global average of 46 percent interest in the games, while in Japan, 78 percent of people were against the event going ahead.

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This post originally posted here Al Jazeera – Breaking News, World News and Video from Al Jazeera

Olympic athletes to put on own medals at Tokyo ceremonies

Olympic athletes to put on own medals at Tokyo ceremonies

The “very significant change” to traditional medal ceremonies in the 339 events was revealed by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

TOKYO, Japan — Athletes at the Tokyo Olympics will put their medals around their own necks to protect against spreading the coronavirus.

The “very significant change” to traditional medal ceremonies in the 339 events was revealed Wednesday by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

“The medals will not be given around the neck,” Bach told international media on a conference call from Tokyo. “They will be presented to the athlete on a tray and then the athlete will take the medal him or herself.”

“It will be made sure that the person who will put the medal on a tray will do so only with disinfected gloves so that the athlete can be sure that nobody touched them before,” Bach added.

The Olympic approach is different from soccer in Europe where UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has personally hung medals around the necks of players at competition finals in recent weeks.

Ceferin also shook hands with Italy’s standout goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma at the Euro 2020 medal and trophy presentation in London on Sunday. Donnarumma’s save in a penalty shootout clinched the title for Italy against England.

Bach confirmed Wednesday that in Tokyo “there will be no shake hands and there will be no hugs there during the ceremony.”

Olympic medals are typically presented by an IOC member or a leading official in a sport’s governing body.

The IOC had previously said medalists and ceremony officials would have to wear masks.

The Tokyo Olympics open July 23 in a state of emergency and rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in the city.

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This post originally posted here CBS8 – Sports

San Diego boxer ready as alternate when the call comes for Olympic games

San Diego boxer ready as alternate when the call comes for Olympic games

At 20 years old, Jonathan Mansour is one of the youngest members of the USA Boxing team and is currently the #2-ranked amateur featherweight in the country.

EL CAJON, Calif. — A fighter from El Cajon is turning the Chaldean community on to a sport they typically don’t pay much attention to.

Jonathan Mansour, who at 20 years old is one of the youngest members of the USA Boxing team.  Mansour’s nickname is “Magic” and he often switches between southpaw and orthodox stances to throw off his opponent.

I got the nickname from my teammate, Jill. She said “every time you throw punches it’s like you disappear, they can’t see you no more,” Mansour said.

When asked if the nickname is well deserved, coach Kearney said, “Absolutely. He does things that are unconventional, it’s like an illusion.”

One thing you notice when you meet Jonathan “Magic” Mansour is his punch. Fans can see his punch speed along with his 75K+ followers through his training videos on his Instagram page @jonny_mansour. He’s also tall for a featherweight and uses his range to outbox his opponent.

He is currently the #2-ranked amateur featherweight in the country.  

Mansour trains at the Bomber Squad Boxing Academy in El Cajon.

His coach, Berlin Kearney said that what makes him a good fighter is that he listens. “He’s strong-headed in a good way.  Everything we tell him, he takes in and applies it,” Kearney said.

When asked what brings him back, day after day to train, Mansour said, “Honestly, the sport has truly shown me who I am. Working hard every single day, teaching me discipline, teaching me dedication.”

He has won multiple national tournaments, including Golden Gloves, and has won an international gold in Ireland.

Mansour still always remembers where he came from.  

“I grew up in a Chaldean community, there aren’t a lot of boxers…actually there are no boxers…it’s just me and my cousin, Julius. We are the only ones and we are bringing in new life and culture to our Chaldean community.”

His dad wasn’t always on board with Jonathan boxing. But he came around.

“I can’t see my son get hit so I was really worried about him. I tried to stop him a couple of times,” Jonathan’s dad said.

Dad feels differently now.

“Every Chaldean is proud of him. Our country, Iran, is proud of him. Everybody is happy with what he is doing,” he added.

Last year Mansour had earned the spot of first alternate for the Tokyo Olympics. But USA Boxing recently changed Olympic qualifying protocols and is now sending just two male fighters to the games, dashing Mansour’s Olympic dreams. For now.

“Honestly, everything happens for a reason. I’m going to continue to build my experience until 2024,” Mansour said.

Editors update: Since this story initially aired, USA Boxing decided to send four professionals to the 2021 Tokyo games. It will mark the first time ever that professional boxers have represented the USA at the Olympic games.

WATCH RELATED: San Diego’s ‘Lady Tyson’ becomes USA Boxing Champion 

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This post originally posted here CBS8 – Sports

Laurie Hernandez gives update on injury that cost her US Olympic Trials

Laurie Hernandez gives update on injury that cost her US Olympic Trials

Hernandez tweeted Tuesday that she just realized she hadn’t fully explained what happened to her knee that ultimately cost her a shot at the Olympics.

Olympic gold medal gymnast Laurie Hernandez gave an update Tuesday on the injury she suffered at the U.S. Gymnastics Championships that ultimately cost her a spot at the Olympic trials.

Hernandez appeared to hyperextend her right knee during warmups before the U.S. Championships. She pushed through the beam routine on the first night, but withdrew from the second night altogether.

She gave more details Tuesday.

“this is super random but like… i got a bone bruise, fluid, a cyst and torn meniscus from that dismount landing in championships & just realized i never gave y’all a knee update,” Hernandez tweeted. “and i still chose to do beam after the fall, I’m proud (it was a bad routine but I’m just glad i tried).”

Hernandez was left off the roster for the Olympic trials two weeks ago. She did not petition to be added and ended up doing commentary for the NBC broadcast.

After her injury, Hernandez posted a thread on Twitter showing a bunch of the skills she was working on for trials.

Hernandez won silver on the balance beam and gold in the team event at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 2020 U.S. women’s Olympic gymnastics team will include Hernandez’s 2016 teammate Simone Biles along with first-time Olympians Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, Grace McCallum, MyKayla Skinner and Jade Carey. Skinner and Carey will only compete in individual events while the other four will also be in the team competition. Carey earned her own spot through the World Cup circuit, separate from the Olympic trials.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Author: Travis Pittman
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Jessica Springsteen, Bruce’s daughter, makes US Olympic equestrian team

Jessica Springsteen, Bruce's daughter, makes US Olympic equestrian team

Jessica Springsteen will represent the U.S. in equestrian’s jumping event, riding Don Juan van de Donkhoeve.

Bruce Springsteen’s daughter, Jessica, is headed to Tokyo as part of the U.S. Olympic equestrian team. She was one of the riders named to the jumping squad.

Springsteen, 29, will ride Don Juan van de Donkhoeve, a 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood stallion, at the Olympics. The other members of the jumping team include Kent Farrington of Wellington, Fla., Laura Kraut of Royal Palm Beach, Fla., and McClain Ward of Brewster, N.Y.

Springsteen’s official U.S. Equestrian Federation biography says she started taking riding lessons at the age of five and is now one of the top jumping athletes in the U.S. She is currently ranked third in the U.S. in jumping behind Kraut and Ward.

“She has represented the U.S. as part of FEI Nations Cup teams, including the winning teams in both Palm Beach, Fla. and Wellington, Fla., in 2020, Dublin, Ireland in 2014 and at the 2018 FEI Jumping Nations Cup Final in Barcelona, Spain,” her USEF page says.

USA TODAY reports Springsteen was an alternate for the 2012 Olympic team and did not make the 2016 team.

Her USEF bio does not make any mention of her famous father.

Equestrian has three disciplines: jumping, dressage and eventing. Jumping is the form of equestrian most casual fans likely think about. The rider and horse are timed over a course in which the horses have to jump obstacles which can include parallel rails, triple bars, water jumps and simulated stone walls. Time penalties may be assessed if the horse and rider don’t clear the obstacle or if they skip it. The horse and rider who get through the course the fastest and with the fewest penalties wins.

Equestrian is the only Olympic sport in which men and women will compete against each other individually on equal footing for the same medals.

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Author: Travis Pittman
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As Olympic athletes begin to arrive in Tokyo, fear of virus spike grows

As Olympic athletes begin to arrive in Tokyo, fear of virus spike grows

At least three Olympic athletes have tested positive for COVID-19 since arriving in Japan as a drive to vaccinate citizens has hit a supply issue.

TOKYO, Japan — The pressure of hosting an Olympics during a still-active pandemic is beginning to show in Japan.

The games begin July 23, with organizers determined they will go on, even with a reduced number of spectators or possibly none at all. While Japan has made remarkable progress to vaccinate its population against COVID-19, the drive is losing steam because of supply shortages.

With tens of thousands of visitors coming to a country that is only 13.8% fully vaccinated, gaps in border controls have emerged, highlighted by the discovery of infections among the newly arrived team from Uganda, with positive tests for the highly contagious delta variant.

As cases grow in Tokyo, so have fears that the games will spread the virus.

“We must stay on high alert,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters on July 1. Noting the rising caseloads, he said “having no spectators is a possibility.”

Seiko Hashimoto, president of the Tokyo organizing committee, agreed.

“It’s not that we are determined to have spectators regardless of the situation,” Hashimoto said Friday.

Organizers, the International Olympic Committee and others are expected to meet this week to announce new restrictions because of the fast-changing coronavirus situation.

Amid the criticism, Suga went to Tokyo’s Haneda international airport June 28 to inspect virus testing for arrivals. He vowed to ensure appropriate border controls as a growing number of Olympic and Paralympic athletes, officials and media begin entering Japan for the games.

On Monday, Tokyo confirmed 342 new cases, the 16th straight day of an increase. On Saturday, the capital reported 716 cases, highest in five weeks.

At a meeting of government advisers, experts warned of the possibility of infections exploding during the games, projecting daily caseloads exceeding 1,000. They said that would severely strain health care systems. In a worst-case scenario, there could be thousands of infections a day, causing hospitals to overflow, they said.

Ryuji Wakita, director-general of the National Institute of Infectious Diseases and the head of a government COVID-19 advisory board, urged tighter border controls to detect and isolate infected arrivals at airports to prevent infections from spreading from Tokyo to the suburbs.

In a case that has shocked many in Japan, a member of the Ugandan team tested positive upon arrival June 19 at Narita International Airport and was quarantined there. The rest of the nine-member team was allowed to travel more than 500 kilometers (300 miles) on a chartered bus to their pre-Olympics camp in the western prefecture of Osaka.

Days later, a second member of the team from East Africa tested positive for the virus, forcing seven town officials and drivers who had close contact with them to self-isolate. The team itself is isolating at a hotel. Health officials said both infected Ugandans had the delta variant.

On Saturday, an athlete from Serbia also tested positive, causing the cancelation of his team’s training in the central city of Nanto. The government also has acknowledged that four other people arriving for the Olympics tested positive after entering the country earlier this year.

Experts say the cases show that Japan’s border health controls can be easily breached.

“There will be more people coming in. … We should use this as a lesson so that similar problems won’t be repeated elsewhere in Japan,” Osaka Gov. Hirofumi Yoshimura told a recent regional governors’ meeting where leaders adopted an urgent request for tighter border controls.

Under revised guidelines on health measures sent to 530 municipalities hosting Olympic training, airport officials will isolate an entire group if any member tests positive, and they will stay at designated facilities until the athletes’ village opens July 12. Hosting towns can request guests to stop training and isolate themselves until they clear contact tracing and virus tests.

Dozens of municipalities in Japan have canceled their hosting arrangements because of virus worries, and many of them decided to use those facilities as vaccination sites.

In Tokyo, infections are spreading among the young and middle-aged who are largely unvaccinated. The more serious cases requiring hospitalization are gradually replacing the elderly, 26% of whom are now fully vaccinated, according to experts.

Japan’s fully vaccinated rate of 13.8% is slightly above the world average of 11.3% but low compared with 47.4% in the United States and 49.5% in the U.K., according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Our World in Data.

Adding to the worries is uncertainty about Japan’s vaccination campaign.

Workplace inoculations began in mid-June, with thousands of companies applying to vaccinate employees. But the government then indefinitely halted taking new applications for workplace and large-scale vaccination sites due to tight vaccine supplies.

“The progress exceeded our expectations,” said vaccinations minister Taro Kono, noting that daily shots have likely reached 1.2 million or more. He said Japan will receive only one-third of the Pfizer-BioNTechPfizer vaccine supply it had hoped to receive by late July.

“Confusion is spreading across Japan,” because of this slowdown, said Kamon Iizumi, the Tokushima governor who also heads the National Governors’ Association.

A vaccination center in Kagawa had to suspend shots for 30,000 people, and plans were put on hold for 6,500 companies in Gifu, in central Japan. Other areas including Osaka, Kobe and parts of Tokyo also were forced to suspend planned vaccinations from this week.

“What a disappintment,” said Yukio Takano, head of Tokyo’s Toshima district. “We have worked so hard to accelerate the rollouts and now we have to put on the brakes. … What was the rush for?”

Japan began vaccinating medical workers in mid-February and the elderly in mid-April. Despite initial delays due to bungled reservations and shortages, the pace picked up in mid-May when vaccine imports stabilized and staff was secured to meet a primary target of fully vaccinating all 36 million elderly by the end of July.

Suga set up military-run mass vaccination centers in late May and added workplace and college campus venues to accelerate the progress.

On June 21, Japan eased its third state of emergency to less-stringent measures that focused on shorter operating hours at bars and restaurants in Tokyo and other metro areas until July 11.

Experts suggest, however, that a resurgence might require another emergency declaration during the Olympics. If so, organizers may have to reconsider their current limit of 10,000 people or 50% capacity at venues to perhaps barring all spectators.

Kengo Sakurada, president of Sompo Holdings and the head of an influential business lobby, said on June 30 that the current vaccination rate is not enough to hold a safe Olympics.

He said he supports having no spectators for events because the damage from a worse outbreak would be far greater.

“I would take the safer option,” he said.

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Author: MARI YAMAGUCHI Associated Press
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