Japan medic warns of 'Olympic' COVID strain

Although Japan has repeatedly pledged to hold a "safe and secure" 2020 Olympics in Tokyo after a year-long postponement, it is struggling to contain a fourth wave of the pandemic and preparing to extend a state of emergency that covers much of the country.

"In order to win the battle against the coronavirus, we need to stop the movement (holding the Games), and that is why we are calling for the Tokyo Games to be cancelled," said Naoto Ueyama, head of the Japan Doctors Union on Thursday (May 27).

"We also cannot deny the possibility of a new variant being generated (after the Games). If that were to happen, it would be called the "Tokyo Olympics variant" and it (holding the Games) will be condemned in the next 100 years as a foolish act of mankind," he said.

Japanese officials, Olympics organizers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) have all vowed the Games will go ahead, albeit under strict virus prevention measures. Foreign spectators have already been banned and a decision on domestic viewers is expected next month.

But even with these steps in place, worries remain about the influx of athletes and officials into Japan, where the vaccine process remains glacially slow and just over 5% of the population have received inoculations.

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