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Survey finds most Japanese do not want to attend live Olympic or Paralympic events

Tokyo Virus Q and APeople pass a countdown clock for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo last Tuesday. Most Japanese have no desire to attend Olympic or Paralympic events, according to a recent Jiji Press poll.

Feb 23, 2020

Fewer than 40 percent of Japanese want to watch live Tokyo Olympic or Paralympic events at venues, a recent Jiji Press opinion poll found.

According to the survey, 9.2 percent of those questioned said they definitely want to watch the Olympic or Paralympic opening or closing ceremonies or competitions at event venues, while 27.4 percent want to attend such events only if possible.

The total figure of 36.7 percent is down from 37.1 percent in July last year, the last time the survey covered the subject, and 45.6 percent in 2018.

As many as 62.8 percent said they do not want to attend such events. The figure includes 23.2 percent who said they do not want to watch any live events and 39.5 percent who do not want to attend them so much.

Asked about reasons, with multiple answers allowed, 70.0 percent said they will be satisfied with watching different events via television broadcasts and other types of coverage, 38.5 percent said event venues are too far away to travel to and 22.0 percent said they are worried about heatstroke and other problems due to expected high temperatures during the games.

The low level of interest in attending live events is also believed to reflect concerns over the growing coronavirus outbreak.

Regarding Olympic and Paralympic tickets, only 1.3 percent said they had won tickets in the lottery.

The largest group, or 69.6 percent, said they do not plan to buy tickets, followed by 15.8 percent who did not join the lottery and have not decided whether they will buy them in the future and 5.6 percent who did not enter the lottery and have not yet decided what they are planning to do.

Also, 4.7 percent said they did not apply for the lottery but want to buy tickets, while 2.4 percent said they entered the lottery but failed to win so they want to purchase tickets.

On issues of concern about the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics, the largest proportion or respondents, at 39.9 percent, cited concern over transportation inconveniences that may result from traffic jams and congestion.

Some 38.0 percent said costs for the Tokyo Games may increase, causing more taxpayers’ money to be used to finance the event, while 37.2 percent are worried that Japan may be targeted by criminals or terrorists.

The interview-based survey was conducted on 2,000 people aged 18 or older across Japan for four days through Feb. 9. Valid responses were collected from 61.1 percent of those questioned.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Tokyo Delays Olympic Volunteer Training Because of Virus

Olympics Tokyo Virus Test Events
In this Feb. 2, 2020, file photo, two logo for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics, are displayed at a grand opening ceremony of the Ariake Arena, in Tokyo.
February 21, 2020
TOKYO – While again stating there are no plans to cancel or delay the Tokyo Olympics, local organizers postponed training sessions for volunteers on Friday for at least two months because of the virus outbreak spreading from China.
About 80,000 people are needed at the Olympics to provide free work which the IOC calls “key support to ensure the success of the games.”
Tokyo organizers said the postponed sessions are “part of efforts to prevent the spread of infection of the novel coronavirus.”
Training will be postponed until May or later, organizers said on their website. More than 200,000 people applied to be volunteers, with about one-third from outside Japan.
The Olympics are scheduled to run from July 24-Aug. 9.
The International Olympic Committee, local organizers and the World Health Organization have repeatedly said there is no current need to put the games in doubt.
The virus, known as COVID-19, has caused the deaths of about 2,250 people since it emerged in the Chinese city Wuhan late last year. Up to Friday, three deaths and more than 700 cases — most from a quarantined cruise ship docked in Tokyo Bay — had been reported in Japan.
“There are no considerations of canceling the games nor will the postponements of these (training) activities have an impact on the overall games preparation,” Tokyo organizers said.
Still, plans for some Olympic-related promotions and preparation could change.
“In accordance with the government’s policy for preventing the spread of infectious diseases, we will also evaluate the immediate need for each games-related event on a case by case basis,” organizers said.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Replace Tokyo by London as Host of 2020 Olympics

London Seems Ready to Replace Tokyo as Host of 2020 Olympics

Feb 20, 2020

London, Feb. 19 (Jiji Press)–Two major candidates in the London mayoral election in May suggested Wednesday that the city is ready to host the 2020 Summer Olympics if Tokyo is forced to give up hosting the Games due to a possible epidemic of the new coronavirus in Japan.

London, which hosted the 2012 Games, “can host the Olympics in 2020,” Conservative challenger Shaun Bailey said on Twitter.

“We have the infrastructure and the experience. And due to the coronavirus outbreak, the world might need us to step up,” Bailey said.

“As Mayor, I will make sure London is ready to answer the call and host the Olympics again,” he said.

Local newspaper City A.M. reported a comment by a spokesman for Labour incumbent Sadiq Khan that London will do its best in the unlikely event that it be required, although everyone is working toward the success of the Tokyo Games.

tokyo-2020John Coates, chairman of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games coordination committee (left), and Tokyo 2020 President Yoshiro Mori

Tokyo Olympics have no ‘Plan B’ for coronavirus, organizers say

February 14, 2020

There is no “Plan B” for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics if the event is affected by the coronavirus outbreak in nearby China, organizers said.

There’s no case for any contingency plans or canceling the Games or moving the Games,” John Coates, head of an International Olympics Committee inspection team, said at a press conference in Tokyo Thursday.

Coates, who had just wrapped up a two-day trip to investigate possible risks, said the World Health Organization has advised him that a back-up plan isn’t necessary.

He added that the starting date of July 24 “remains on track.”

The rapidly spreading virus has infected nearly 64,000 people worldwide and claimed the lives of 1,400 people, with only one fatality reported in Japan.

At the press event, elected officials were also asked if there are any “organizational changes” planned for rolling out the games in light of the virus.

This stage, no. We are not thinking of any such possibility,” said Yoshiro Mori, a former Japanese prime minister who is heading the Olympic planning committee.

But outside experts warned that coronavirus-related health risks to Japan are hard to predict.

There is no guarantee that the outbreak will come to an end before the Olympics because we have no scientific basis to be able to say that,” Shigeru Omi, a former regional director of the WHO.

We should assume that the virus has already been spreading in Japan.”

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Time running out on Tokyo Olympics



February 19, 2020

Japan needs to rethink the Olympics. The most pressing reason to postpone or cancel the 2020 Tokyo summer games, which are due to start in late July, is a raging public health crisis of unknown dimensions.

The second most important reason to put the Olympics on hold is the Japanese government response to the public health crisis to date: it has shown itself to have feet of clay.

If the Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked in Yokohama Port under quarantine, is a litmus test of Japan’s ability to exercise compassion and competence in an emergency involving thousands of people from around the world, the Abe government has failed miserably.

Prime Minister Abe Shinzo continues to dither while a ship docked in a Japanese port is ravaged by a dangerous virus; nearly 500 infected at latest count. Mr Abe and his political associates continue to proclaim the Olympics will not be delayed, but that is just wishful thinking.

How can a country move forward with plans to “welcome” the world to the Tokyo games when it can’t even deal with a single cruise ship stranded in Tokyo Bay?

Ever since right-wing firebrand Ishihara Shintaro was mayor of Tokyo, the 2020 Olympics have been a pet project of Japan nationalists seeking to burnish a flawed legacy. They hold the vain hope the 2020 games will be as transformative as the 1964 Tokyo Olympics famously were, again heralding an era of national pride.

Perhaps the turning point of the Beijing Olympics of 2008 is a more apt comparison, given the upsurge of social control, information control and the discordant noise of nationalism.

Among other things, Mr Abe also sees the Olympics as a way of proving to the world that the Fukushima nuclear mess — Japan’s answer to Chernobyl — is not a cause for concern. This is ironic because the messy aftermath of the triple disaster (earthquake, tsunami and meltdown) of March 2011 has been seized upon by Mr Abe and his allies to tighten their grip on power.

Fukushima is an environmental tragedy, but the fact is, it cannot be fully contained, so the struggle has shifted to containing information.

Former prime minister Koizumi Junichiro has called Mr Abe “a liar” for sugar-coating the disaster. Mr Abe had statistics about evacuees were reclassified and altered to make things look more positive. He reassured the Olympic Committee that things at Fukushima were “under control”, which is to say he had the flow of information under control, not the toxic, radioactive leaks. In 2019, Mr Abe’s cabinet shamelessly made a move to dump a million tonnes of “harmless” contaminated water into the open sea.

Mr Abe’s ability to control information is bolstered by an “official secrets act” that criminalises journalists and whistleblowers for reporting leaked information, including radiation leaks. He has exonerated those most responsible for the nuclear mishap — big players in the electric power industry — and put the burden on the taxpayer, reminiscent of the US bailout of Wall Street bailout in 2008.

Only instead of toxic default swaps, it’s a swapping of feel-good stories for news of toxic doom.

Japanese consumers are justifiably nervous about food sourced near the Daiichi Nuclear plant, but Mr Abe is willfully pushing to include food from Fukushima at the Tokyo Olympic Village to “prove” it isn’t tainted.

Nor is it mere coincidence that Mr Abe’s government wants the Olympic Torch Run to commence just 20 kilometres from the damaged Dai-Ichi reactor.

Fearing negative news, hundreds of Japan evacuees from Wuhan were quietly dumped at Haneda Airport without mandatory quarantine. Some took the train home. The Abe government also made a point of asking the World Health Organisation (WHO) not to include the feverish passengers on Diamond Princess in Japan’s national case toll, presumably in order not to dampen “Olympic fever”.

Mr Abe’s icy silence regarding the stricken ship was broken with a silly string of excuses for not being able to test everyone. Hong Kong tested and cleared an entire cruise ship in less time than it took Japan to test a tenth of the passengers.

Even as the coronavirus started to spread among Japanese who had not travelled to China in mid-February, a gala Olympic torch event was held in the streets of Tokyo. Even as public health experts warned of a crisis brewing, it was business as usual for tourist festivals, including the uniquely vulnerable “10,000 naked man festival” in Okayama, which brings to mind the ill-fated “feast for 10,000” held by officials in Wuhan.

The Japanese government’s failure to test all cruise passengers meant even those American passengers “lucky” enough for US evacuation on Monday travelled on planes chartered by the US government in tight spaces with infected passengers.

There are many well-equipped military bases in Japan, dozens under the flag of the Rising Sun, dozens more under the Stars and Stripes.

With so many bases nearby, why is land quarantine not an option?

To portray Mr Abe’s cavalier treatment of the imperilled humans trapped aboard the Diamond Princess as racial or national prejudice is not fair; half of the passengers are Japanese.

But it is not wrong to suggest that the stigmatised human beings aboard that ship are being subject to intense prejudice, despite the fact that many of them happen to hold Japanese passports.

When it comes to stigma and exclusion, Japan can be ruthless to natives and non-natives alike. The tradition of “village outcast” (mura hachibu) in rural Japan has been updated to “shunned to the window” (madogawazoku) in modern offices.

This seems to be the fate of those left on the Diamond Princess, though not all of them have windows to sit by.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus continues to infect human beings regardless of race, creed and myths of national origin. Timely intervention makes a difference, as does common sense and common decency.

Unfortunately, we live in a time of toxic nationalism, intolerance and failed leadership. Not just Japan, but China and the US too. Similar dynamics can be seen at play in smaller countries as well, whether it be Thailand and Cambodia, or England and France.

Any leader who insists that “the show must go on” while doing nothing to help people in real distress proves a fundamental unworthiness to run the show.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Fukushima ‘safe’ to host Olympic torch relay: governor

jlmmmFukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori speaks to foreign media on Feb. 18, 2020, in Tokyo

February 19, 2020

TOKYO (Kyodo) — Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori said Tuesday the northeastern Japan prefecture, devastated by the 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster, is safe to host its leg of the Olympic torch relay.

With the Japanese government designating the upcoming Tokyo Games as “Reconstruction Olympics,” the torch relay in the country will kick off on March 26 at J-Village, a football training center in the prefecture that was once an operational base for dealing with the nuclear crisis. Opening matches for Olympic baseball and softball will be played in Fukushima city as well.

“Through this ‘Reconstruction Olympics,’ we would like to show how Fukushima’s reconstruction has progressed in the past nine years as the result of efforts in cooperation with the Japanese government,” the governor told a press briefing in Tokyo.

Holding the Olympic events “doesn’t mean the reconstruction has finished,” he said, adding the prefecture also suffered damage from Typhoon Hagibis, which left a trail of destruction across wide areas of Japan last fall.

The quake and tsunami disasters in northeastern Japan left more than 15,000 people dead and triggered the world’s worst nuclear disaster since the 1986 Chernobyl crisis. Typhoon Hagibis in October caused massive floods in Fukushima.

The safety of the torch relay route has been confirmed through constant radiation monitoring, among other measures, Uchibori said.

Late last year, Greenpeace Japan informed the Japanese government and Olympic bodies that radiation hot spots were discovered around J-Village, prompting Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc., the operator of the crisis-hit Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, to remove the soil in the affected areas.

In the town of Naraha, one of the municipalities hosting J-Village, only about half of the residents have returned after the evacuation, according to Uchibori.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

South Korean activists and professors sign petition against Japan’s push to dump radioactive water into the ocean

There needs to be a public open debate regarding what to do with the water BEFORE another high magnitude earthquake makes ithe decision for us. There are no easy answers but such a debate will at least serve to highlight the perils of all things nuclear. Pretending everything will be OK is not a credible strategy.


February18, 2020

Activists, professors, and civic groups have united to lambast Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his push to dump radioactively contaminated water from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant into the ocean. Referring to such an action as “nuclear terrorism against humanity and a criminal act,” 100 professors, civic group members, and environmental activists have signed a petition calling for Abe to immediately abandon his plans for the dump. The photo shows an artist painting palm prints on a drawing of Abe in protest. (Kim Wan, staff reporter)

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , | Leave a comment

Indonesia eases import limits on processed foods from Japan imposed after Fukushima nuclear disaster

Japan continues its PR campaign to facilitate its Fukushima contaminated food exports to other countries, making financial loans to some and bribing their corrupt officials, organizing promotion show in some others to fool the unknowing public.

n-fukushima-a-20200219-870x580Visitors to the Paris Japan Cultural Center taste sake at an event featuring sake and food from Fukushima Prefecture on Jan. 23.

Feb 18, 2020

Indonesia has eased its import restrictions on processed foods made in Japan imposed after the nuclear accident in Fukushima Prefecture in March 2011, the Japanese agriculture ministry said Tuesday.

With the measure, taken as of Jan. 27, Indonesia now accepts processed foods from 40 Japanese prefectures, including Fukushima, without radiation inspection certificates.

Such certificates are still required for processed foods from the remaining prefectures — Miyagi, Yamagata, Ibaraki, Tochigi, Niigata, Yamanashi and Nagano.

In the meantime, radiation inspection certificates are necessary for meat and vegetables from all prefectures, due to concern over effects from the triple meltdown at Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fukushima staff could use raincoats as virus threatens gear production

The lack of suits and masks may cause work delays. TEPCO’s alternative ideas such as using plastic rain gear may put workers at higher risk of exposure.
Tyvek suits become impossible to obtain.
This could also impact access to N95 masks. These are currently used in lower risk areas to prevent small particles of radioactive dust from being inhaled. The same masks are used to block coronavirus among the public and health care workers in lower risk situations. Masks have been in short supply world wide causing long lines as consumers hope to secure a supply. Masks were recently stolen from a hospital in Kobe.
Fukushima staff may be forced to use raincoats as COVID-19 threatens gear production
18 Feb 2020 03:40PM
TOKYO: Workers at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may need to wear plastic raincoats as the coronavirus outbreak threatens production of protective suits in China, the operator warned on Tuesday (Feb 18).
The workers cleaning up the plant wear special plastic overcoats to prevent radioactive dust settling on clothes or the body and the TEPCO operator gets through 6,000 per day.
But a TEPCO spokesman told AFP “we could have difficulties getting certain specific items from our usual suppliers” because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“For example, we have coats with transparent pockets showing an ID badge and their radiation measuring device and it is possible these same products are not available,” he added.
In this case, they would be forced to resort to commercially available products such as plastic raincoats, said the official.
There should be no impact on safety as the coats are not designed to protect workers from radiation since the rays penetrate clothes in any case. << = Gamma rays don’t stop for Tyvek, either.
Fukushima staff could use raincoats as virus threatens gear production
Workers at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant may need to wear plastic raincoats as the coronavirus outbreak threatens production of protective suits in China, the operator warned on Tuesday.
Staff cleaning up the plant wear special plastic overcoats to prevent radioactive dust settling on clothes or the body and the TEPCO operator gets through 6,000 per day.
But a TEPCO spokesman told AFP “we could have difficulties getting certain specific items from our usual suppliers” because of the COVID-19 outbreak.
“For example, we have coats with transparent pockets showing an ID badge and their radiation measuring device and it is possible these same products are not available,” he added.
In this case, they would be forced to resort to commercially available products such as plastic raincoats, said the official.
There should be no impact on safety as the coats are not designed to protect workers from radiation since the rays penetrate clothes in any case.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Fukushima 2020 | , , , | Leave a comment

Will the 2020 Tokyo Radioactive Olympics be cancelled as well?

“You’d think by now everyone would have realized there aren’t going to be any Olympic games this year given that qualifying matches are not being held, visitors to and from Japan are already being blocked, and even events in Europe are being cancelled through April. Predicted in January they’d realize between Feb 14 and March 1 that it would have to be delayed. Unless math and the viral dna change… not likely.
Running a torch relay through Fukushima Prefecture says “we give zero actual Fs” about anyone’s “health”. Appearance is EVERYTHING.”
(Credits to Bruce Brinkman, reporting from Tokyo)

List of sports events affected by the coronavirus outbreak

10325401_10204102291517461_1178696755673550066_nMeme made by Christian Roy and Hervé Courtois in 2013


List of sports events affected by the coronavirus outbreak

February 18, 2020


World indoor championships in Nanjing from March 13-15 postponed to March 2021.

Hong Kong Marathon on Feb. 9 cancelled.

Asian indoor championships in Hangzhou from Feb. 12-13 cancelled.

Tokyo Marathon on March 1: Restricted to elite runners.


Formula One’s Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai on April 19 postponed. New date not set.

Formula E’s Sanya E-Prix in Sanya on March 21 cancelled.


China Masters in Hainan from Feb. 25-March 1 postponed. New dates not set.

Asian team championships in Manila from Feb. 11-16: China and Hong Kong withdrew.


Women’s Olympic qualifying tournament moved from Foshan to Belgrade, Serbia from Feb. 6-9.

Asia Cup qualifiers postponed: Philippines vs. Thailand on Feb. 20; Japan vs. China on Feb. 21, China vs. Malaysia on Feb. 24. Matches scheduled for Hong Kong moved to opponents’ homes.


Olympic test event in Zhangjiakou from Feb. 27-March 2 cancelled.


Asia-Oceania Olympic qualifier moved from Wuhan to Amman, Jordan from March 3-11.


Asian Championships in Chongqing from April 25-May 3 to be relocated.

World Cup in Wujiang from April 18-19 cancelled.

World Cup in Chongqing on April 22 cancelled.


Hong Kong showjumping leg of Longines Masters Series from Feb. 14-16 cancelled.


Hockey Pro League matches between China and Belgium on Feb. 8-9 and Australia on March 14-15 postponed.

India women’s tour of China from March 14-25 cancelled.

Ireland women’s tour of Malaysia in March-April cancelled.



Honda LPGA Thailand in Pattaya from Feb. 20-23 cancelled.

HSBC Women’s World Championship in Singapore from Feb. 27-March 1 cancelled.

Blue Bay LPGA on Hainan Island from March 5-8 cancelled.

European Tour

Maybank Championship in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from April 16-19 postponed.

China Open in Shenzhen from April 23-26 postponed.


Artistic World Cup in Melbourne, Australia from Feb. 20-23: China team withdrew.


Olympic women’s qualifying tournament in Montenegro from March 20-22: China withdrew. Hong Kong declined invitation to attend.


Chinese clubs in Supreme Hockey League playing home games in Russia.

Women’s Challenge Cup of Asia in Manila, Philippines, from Feb. 23-28 cancelled.


Paris Grand Slam on Feb. 8-9: China team withdrew.

Dusseldorf Grand Slam on Feb. 21-23: China team withdrew.


Hong Kong Sevens moved from April 3-5 to Oct. 16-18.

Singapore Sevens moved from April 11-12 to Oct. 10-11.


Asian Nacra 17 Championship in Shanghai from March 1-6 moved to Genoa, Italy from April 12-19.

Asian 49erFX Championship in Hainan from March 20-29 moved to Genoa, Italy from April 12-19.


Alpine World Cup in Yanqing from Feb. 15-16 cancelled.


Asian Champions League: Matches involving Chinese clubs Guangzhou Evergrande, Shanghai Shenhua, and Shanghai SIPG postponed to April-May. Beijing FC allowed to play from Feb. 18.

Asian women’s Olympic qualifying Group B tournament relocated from Wuhan to Sydney from Feb. 3-13. China vs. South Korea playoff on March 11 moved from China to Malaysia.

AFC Cup: All group stage and playoff matches in east zone delayed to April 7.

Chinese Super League, due to start Feb. 22, delayed.

Asian men’s futsal championship in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan from Feb. 26-March 8 postponed.


Asian water polo championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan from Feb. 12-16 cancelled.

Diving Grand Prix in Madrid from Feb. 14-16: China team withdrew.

Diving world series event in Beijing from March 7-9 cancelled.


Fed Cup Asia-Oceania Group I tournament moved from Dongguan to Dubai, United Arab Emirates, from March 3-7.


Beach volleyball World Cup in Yangzhou from April 22-26 postponed.


Asian Championships from April 18-25 moved from Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan to Tashkent, Uzbekistan.


Asian Championships in New Delhi from Feb. 20-23: China, North Korea, Turkmenistan teams withdrew.


Chinese Anti-Doping Agency suspended testing from Feb. 3.

Winter X Games events in Chongli from Feb. 21-23 postponed.

Singapore athlete of the year awards on Feb. 26 postponed.

World Chess Federation’s presidential council meeting moved from China to United Arab Emirates on Feb. 28-29.

Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Para Games in the Philippines from March 20-28 postponed. New dates not set.

XTERRA Asia-Pacific Championships (offroad triathlon, duathlon) in Taiwan from March 28-29 cancelled.

Snooker’s China Open from March 30-April 5 cancelled.

SportAccord summit in Beijing from April 19-24 cancelled. New site to be determined.

Singapore bans spectators at National School Games from January-August.

University Athletic Association of the Philippines postponed all sports events.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , , | Leave a comment

Japan prepares for widespread coronavirus outbreak


February 18, 2020

As cases of the coronavirus emerge around the country, Japanese health officials are finding it increasingly difficult to identify the routes of infection. The government has announced it is stepping up screening efforts and will have the capacity to test 3,800 people a day starting on Tuesday.

Health ministry official infected despite no close contact

The number of cases in Japan stands at more than 500 as of writing, including 454 from a quarantined cruise ship docked near Tokyo.

Anxiety surrounding the virus has been palpable for weeks, with citizens throughout the country wearing face masks and carrying alcoholic disinfectant. But the concern reached new levels on Monday, after news broke of a health ministry official testing positive. The man, who is in his 50s, had been working on the quarantined cruise ship, reportedly helping control traffic as infected passengers disembarked. Worryingly, he was infected despite only working for about 10 minutes and maintaining a distance of at least two meters from the passengers.

Japan’s health ministry announced on Monday that one of its officials who had been working on the quarantined cruise ship was infected with the coronavirus.

Pressure on government grows

On Monday, the health ministry announced a directive instructing all municipalities to expand screenings to include people with symptoms who have not traveled to the Chinese provinces of Hubei and Zhejiang. Hubei is the epicenter of the outbreak, and has close business links with Zhejiang.

The measure comes after infections were confirmed among people who had neither been to the provinces nor come into contact with people who had.

Laboratories, quarantine stations, universities, and companies around the country are now increasing their personnel in an effort to meet the new testing requirements. The health ministry says the expanded manpower will enable screening of an additional 1,050 people a day.

The ministry says it will also provide medical institutions that have adequate screening equipment with the chemicals and materials needed to conduct testing.

National testing standard

The ministry also announced a set of standards to help people decide when to seek medical assistance:

  • People who display symptoms of the common cold or a temperature above 37.5 degrees Celsius for four days are advised to contact a local medical center.
  • People experiencing severe fatigue or breathing difficulties, as well as those with fever, are advised to contact a local medical center.
  • People vulnerable to viruses, including the elderly and those with pre-existing conditions, are advised to seek medical assistance if they have cold symptoms or fever for two days. Pregnant women are also advised to seek early consultation.

Additionally, ministry officials are urging people to stay home from school or work if they display any symptoms of the cold.

Clinical trials on HIV drug

Health experts are working around the clock on treatment. While it will be some time before a vaccine is available for widespread use, there are signs that one already existing drug may be effective at combating the virus.

The director of Disease Control and Prevention Center, Norio Omagari, told NHK World that a team of researchers from his organization is conducting clinical trials on a drug commonly used to treat HIV. Omagari says that some patients have recovered after the tests, adding that his team is expediting the process to verify the effectiveness of the treatment.

Social impact

The outbreak is affecting a wide range of activities in business and culture.

Japan’s Imperial Household Agency has canceled Emperor Naruhito’s public birthday greetings, which were schedule for February 23. The event would have marked the emperor’s first birthday since ascending to the throne and thousands were expected to attend. It is the first imperial birthday greeting to be called off since 1996, when there was a hostage crisis at the Japanese embassy in Peru.

Meanwhile, the Tokyo Marathon is planning to cancel entries from the general public. The race will be held on March 1, and about 38,000 people had originally registered to take part.

On the business side, Japanese companies with operations in Hubei Province and other parts of China have been struggling to maintain production. The full extent of the impact of the outbreak is difficult to assess but experts say it will prove to be a major setback for the global economy.

February 23, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment

Tokyo marathon cancels mass race over coronavirus scare

March race will be restricted to elite runners
News raises more concerns over Tokyo Olympics
Runners, some wearing masks, compete on Sunday in a marathon in Kumamoto city, western Japan.
Feb 17, 2020
The mass participation race at the Tokyo marathon, which was expected to have 38,000 people taking part, has become the latest sporting casualty of the coronavirus. In a statement organisers confirmed the event on 1 March will now be limited to the elite field of 176 athletes and 30 wheelchair athletes.
“We have been preparing for the Tokyo marathon 2020 while implementing preventive safety measures, however, now that a case of Covid‑19 [coronavirus] has been confirmed within Tokyo, we cannot continue to launch the event within the scale we originally anticipated,” they said.
Organisers said that all registered runners would be allowed to defer their entry until next year. But they would have to pay again and would also not get their money back from this year’s race. One British runner who had entered the race told the Guardian that she understood the decision but from a personal and financial perspective it was hard to take 13 days before the race.
“My husband Max and I had been planning to run the Tokyo marathon for over two years so to hear this news is gutting,” said Sarah Dudgeon, who had been hoping to run the race in under three hours.
“We understand and respect the decision but you can’t helping feeling the personal ramifications. We had trained hard through the winter and were hoping this would be the running holiday of a lifetime. As things stand, we don’t know whether the £3,000 we have paid for flights and hotels will be refunded if we decide to run the race next year.”
Last week organisers had sounded confident the event would go ahead, announcing plans to distribute surgical masks to runners and volunteers as part of preventive safety measures against the virus. They had also told the 1,800 runners from China they could defer their entry until 2021 without any penalty.
However, the continuing spread of the virus meant on Monday they had little choice but to take the drastic step of limiting the race – which doubles up as an Olympic trial for Japanese marathon runners – to just over 200 participants.
The news is bound to raise more concerns about whether the virus could disrupt the Olympic Games in Tokyo, which are due to start on 24 July. So far there have been more than 70,000 cases in China, with 1,770 deaths. Last week senior officials at the International Olympic Committee insisted there was no plan B to reschedule the Games.
“There’s no case for any contingency plans or cancelling the Games or moving the Games,” John Coates, the head of an IOC inspection team, said. He added the World Health Organisation had advised him that a back-up plan was not necessary and that the Games remain “on track”.
Other experts have warned that the coronavirus-related health risks to Japan are hard to predict. “There is no guarantee that the outbreak will come to an end before the Olympics because we have no scientific basis to be able to say that,” said Shigeru Omi, a former regional director of the WHO.
The Olympic rings are displayed in front of the Japan Olympic Museum in Tokyo.
The Tokyo marathon is the biggest sporting event to be affected by the coronavirus. In the past month the World Indoor Championships, due to take place in Nanjing, China in March, were cancelled along with the Shanghai Formula One Grand Prix.
Other sporting events to have been called off or postponed in recent months because of the virus include the Hong Kong Sevens international rugby tournament, the annual Singapore Yacht Show and almost all sports in China.
The London marathon said the situation for the race in April remained unchanged. Hugh Brasher, the event director, said: “We, along with the rest of the world, are monitoring closely the developments relating to the spread of coronavirus and noting the updates and advice given by the UK government, the World Health Organisation and other public bodies. With more than two months to go before the event on Sunday 26 April, we will continue to monitor the situation. We will keep our deferment policy under review as the situation evolves.”
Runners compete in the 2019 edition of the Tokyo Marathon on March 3, 2019. Organizers on Monday announced that only elite runners will participate in the 2020 race due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Tokyo Marathon canceled for 38,000 runners over COVID-19 fears
Feb 17, 2020
As Japan ramps up its response to the coronavirus outbreak, one of the largest sporting events in the nation will be curtailed, with participation in the Tokyo Marathon limited to elite runners and wheelchair competitors, organizers said Monday.
Thousands of runners will no longer be able to participate in the event next month due to growing fears over a domestic outbreak of COVID-19.
The decision to eliminate general participation in the largest marathon in Asia emerged amid growing debate surrounding Tokyo’s preparations to host the 2020 Olympic Games in July despite the ongoing viral outbreak.
The Tokyo Marathon, which is slated for March 1, follows a roughly 42-km route that starts at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building in Shinjuku and finishes at Tokyo Station.
Thirty-eight-thousand runners were set to run in the Tokyo Marathon this year. Participation will be drastically reduced by barring general participants to prevent further spread of the virus. Roughly 200 elite runners will participate in the marathon, which doubles as a qualifying race for the 2020 Games.
Marathon organizers had formed a panel of medical experts in January to devise safety measures as well as ways to prevent further spreading of the novel coronavirus.
On Friday, organizers asked Chinese residents to defer entry to this year’s marathon due to concern of the virus, which is thought to have originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan. Runners were told they would automatically qualify for next year’s marathon if they complied.
Deferred entry was offered to more than 1,800 runners of various nationalities based in China, where, as of Monday, the coronavirus has caused nearly 1,800 deaths and infected more than 70,000 individuals.
The outbreak has led to the cancelation or relocation of sporting events around the world. In January, the International Olympic Committee relocated the Tokyo 2020 Olympic boxing qualifying tournament for the Asian and Oceanic region, which was originally scheduled to take place Feb. 3-14, to the Jordanian capital of Amman.
Olympic women’s soccer qualifying slated for Feb. 3-9 was moved from Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak, to Australia, while Asian Champions League games involving Chinese clubs, including several scheduled to take place in Japan, have been pushed back to April and May.
Formula One’s Shanghai Grand Prix, originally scheduled for Apr. 19, has also been postponed.
Despite growing concerns that the novel coronavirus might impact the 2020 Olympics, organizers insist the game will go on.
After saying he was “seriously worried” the virus could dampen hype for the 2020 Games earlier this month, Yoshiro Muto, president of the Tokyo Organising Committee, backtracked and said cancelation or postponement was out of the question.
The 2020 Olympics, which will commence on July 24 with an opening ceremony, will play host to more than 11,000 athletes from over 200 nations.


February 23, 2020 Posted by | Japan | , | Leave a comment