Tokyo Olympics 2020: Games at risk if coronavirus situation worsens, says Japanese government advisor

The Tokyo Olympics may have to be postponed again if the novel coronavirus mutates into a stronger pathogen, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, a prominent Japanese government adviser, said on Wednesday.

Reuters July 15, 2020 13:41:02 IST
Tokyo Olympics 2020: Games at risk if coronavirus situation worsens, says Japanese government advisor

Tokyo: The Tokyo Olympics may have to be postponed again if the novel coronavirus mutates into a stronger pathogen, Kiyoshi Kurokawa, a prominent Japanese government advisor, said on Wednesday.

However, a recent spike in cases in Tokyo is due to a failure to stick to guidelines to prevent contagion, he said.

A physician who served as a science advisor to the Japanese cabinet from 2006-2008, Kurokawa also headed an independent probe into the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster. Currently, he is advising the government on the coronavirus pandemic.

“I think the virus is mutating all the time ... it may be a much stronger virus that triggers a second wave,” Kurokawa told Reuters. “The Olympics may be postponed again, but I can’t predict.”

“I think it’s small incidents happening in Tokyo ... new cases are because people are not abiding by recommendations,” Kurokawa said of the current spike in infections. “But if there are some mutations, that is a completely different story. That could happen anywhere in the world.”

Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike told Reuters on Monday the Olympics, originally scheduled to start this month but put off to 2021 because of the pandemic, must go ahead next year as a symbol of world unity in overcoming coronavirus .

The spike in infections in Tokyo, which accounts for more than one-third of Japan’s more than 23,000 cases, has prompted a backlash against a planned campaign to promote domestic tourism. Kurokawa said authorities were trying to balance priorities.

“I think one of the concerns of this pandemic is how to prevent the spreading out of this corona infection. The other side of this issue is ... how to promote the economy. Many people are losing their jobs,” he said.

He added that he thought the government was “carefully balancing” the two priorities.

Kurokawa was appointed in June to head a new panel to examine how to use artificial intelligence to fight the spread of the virus. His appointment to the four-person group including a Nobel Prize winning geneticist came after Economics Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura abruptly announced he would dissolve a panel of scientific experts and remake it with new members.

The move came amid reports of clashes between the health experts and politicians.

Kurokawa said that whatever experts recommended based on science, political leaders had to make the final policy call.

“The scientific community’s recommendations have to be fact-based, science-based recommendations, but politicians have to make the decisions,” he said. “Scientists give advice, but decision-making is not by scientists.”

Updated Date:

also read

Staying in the moment helped us in Tokyo, says India women's hockey team defender Udita
Sports

Staying in the moment helped us in Tokyo, says India women's hockey team defender Udita

The Hisar-born player is currently part of the 25-member senior women's core probable group for the national camp in SAI, Bengaluru.

Shivraj Singh Chouhan felicitates India women's hockey team, announces construction of world-class stadium
Sports

Shivraj Singh Chouhan felicitates India women's hockey team, announces construction of world-class stadium

The Indian women's team had finished fourth at the Olympic Games after losing to Great Britain in bronze medal play-off.

Eager to directly qualify for Paris Olympics by winning Asian Games, says Hardik Singh
Sports

Eager to directly qualify for Paris Olympics by winning Asian Games, says Hardik Singh

"We are eager to begin our quest for gold at the Paris Olympics. We will have to approach step-by-step, and our first step will be to qualify directly for the Olympic Games 2024 by winning Gold at the 2022 Asian Games," Hardik said in a Hockey India media release.