TOKYO – Roads were being closed off Tuesday around Tokyo Olympic venues, including the new $1.4 billion National Stadium where the opening ceremony is set for July 23.
This is a clear sign that Tokyo Olympic planners and the International Olympic Committee are moving forward despite public opposition, warnings about the risks of the games becoming a spreader event, and Tokyo and other parts of Japan being under a state of emergency until June 20.
“Today we are only 45 days away from the opening ceremony, although the state of emergency is in effect and the situation remains severe nationwide,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto told an executive board meeting Tuesday. “The number of new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo has started to decrease little by little and we strongly hope the situation will be under control as soon as possible."
New infections in Tokyo are down to around 500 cases a day from 1,000 a month ago. The number of hospitalizations and the seriously ill have also decreased, but the levels are still higher than last fall when COVID-19 variants were not prevalent in Japan.
Experts last week on the Tokyo Metropolitan Government’s pandemic panel said that movement of people in central Tokyo had been rising for three weeks. They warned new infections could rebound if people continue to increase their mobility.
The prime minister's office said 3.66% of Japanese people were fully vaccinated as of Monday. It said 10.7% had at least one shot in what has been a slow vaccine rollout.
Japan has attributed about 13,500 deaths to COVID-19, good by some standards but not as low as many countries in Asia.
Dr. Haruo Ozaki, chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, warned Tuesday that cancellation was still an option.