Athletes Village for Olympics could house virus patients

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FILE - In this March 23, 2020, file photo, a worker walks through the athletes village for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, in Tokyo. Tokyos governor is considering the possibility of using the unfinished Olympic Athletes Village as a temporary hospital for coronavirus infected patients. The massive village on Tokyo Bay could house up to 18,000 people during the Olympics. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File)

TOKYO – The under-construction Athletes Village for the Tokyo Olympics could be used as a temporary hospital for coronavirus patients.

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike has been talking about the possibility of occupying the massive development on Tokyo Bay, which is to house up to 11,000 Olympic and 4,400 Paralympic athletes and staff during the games.

The complex, which will eventually include 24 buildings, is expected to remain unoccupied with the Olympics delayed for 16 months.

Koike said the Athletes Village was "one of the options, but the village is not finished yet. We are talking about places that are available even today or tomorrow and checking a possibility one by one.”

As another alternative, Koike said on Friday that the Tokyo city government would buy a hotel to house patients.

Through Thursday, Japan had reported about 3,300 cases of coronavirus with 74 deaths, according to the health ministry. Tokyo reported 97 new cases on Thursday with officials looking for more beds in the capital as totals rise.

The coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms for most people and can include a fever, coughing and mild pneumonia. The risk of death is greater for older adults and people with other health problems.

The 5,600 units in the Athletes Village will be renovated after the Olympics and sold. Almost 1,000 are now for sale, or have been sold. Occupancy was supposed to begin in 2023, and apartment prices are listed between $500,000 and $2 million.