TOKYO, June 20 (Reuters) – In light of the daunting task of ensuring the safety of the world’s largest sporting event, some emergency medical professionals overseeing Tokyo Olympic venues are urging organizers to shut out spectators about the risks of jumping into COVID-19 – Rule out cases.
The organizers are due to decide on Monday whether they will allow domestic viewers to enter the stadiums for the games, which have been postponed by a year due to the pandemic and are now set to start in about a month. Foreign viewers have already been banned.
The 2020 Tokyo President is targeting a cap of 10,000 people per venue, despite government health experts warning of personal audiences. Continue reading
The overwhelming public opposition to the Games has subsided somewhat, but a Friday poll by Jiji News found that 41% still want the Games to be canceled. When the games take place, 64% of the public want them without a spectator, the survey found.
Each of the 42 venues has its own officer in charge of medical care. Dozens of skilled medical professionals are tasked with treating problems from heat stroke to injury to natural disasters like earthquakes and typhoons.
At the opening ceremony, scheduled for July 23, Shoji Yokobori, the weightlifting center’s medical officer, said he was afraid he did not know how many people would be attending.
“The no-spectator scenario is better than other options. We could still have a major pandemic this summer, ”said Yokobori, chairman of the emergency and intensive care unit at Nippon Medical School Hospital in Tokyo.
“I’m in command of the venue. The number of spectators is my main concern. I hope there won’t be that many,” he said.
Yokobori and two other medical officials told Reuters the pandemic added to the already busy work that requires quick decision-making and on-site risk assessment.
The Olympic organizers have held conference calls with doctors once or twice a month but have only provided “rough” information so far, Yokobori said.
“We don’t have a lot of information about how many spectators and how many athletes there will be, so we can’t imagine what it will be like,” he said.
‘ALL-OUT COMBAT MODE’
The medical officers work closely with the staff of the medical wards for athletes and spectators and coordinate all medical care, including transfer to hospitals and clinics.
A number of medical officers have resigned in recent months and said they were too busy, the public broadcaster NHK reported this month.
The organizers are trying to fill these gaps. The Japanese Association for Acute Medicine recently received a request to recommend about seven candidates for event directors, an official from the association told Reuters.
The association declined the request, saying it was an academic institution and did not offer internship services, the official said.
The organizers did not respond to an email requesting a comment.
Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto recently told reporters he expects to fill the void with the venue’s medical officials by the end of the month without going into detail.
Those who have stayed at the venue as paramedics since last year and are fighting the coronavirus in their own emergency rooms are preparing for a busy summer.
“My number one mission is to get through the Olympic period in all-out combat mode,” said Youichi Yanagawa, an emergency medic who will be a staging officer at two cycling venues in Shizuoka Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo.
Yanagawa, who runs an emergency medical center in the area, said he was concerned that the volunteers at his venue had no training related to infectious diseases.
Given these restrictions, an Olympics without spectators would relieve the already limited resources in his city, he said.
“But the ball rests with the organizer,” said Yanagawa.
“The games without spectators would be easy to control, but we don’t make the decisions. I can only say that we have to prepare according to the decisions of the organizers.”
Reporting from Ju-min Park and Kiyoshi Takenaka; Adaptation by William Mallard
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