Vaccines hold the key for Olympics to go ahead

As Tokyo woke up to its second state of emergency on Friday (January 8), many people believe it will be difficult, perhaps impossible, to host the Tokyo Olympic Games safely this summer.

A day earlier Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said that the rescheduled sport showpiece will go ahead and that vaccines are the key to making it happen, and happen safely.

"I think (it's possible to hold the Olympics) because administering of vaccines (for coronavirus) has begun around the world. I want to start vaccinations in Japan by the end of February. If we take appropriate measures, I think the public feelings (towards the Olympics) will change. In any case, I would like to do all I can in putting in place coronavirus measures."

His optimism isn’t shared by many Tokyo locals who have concerns that a large influx of foreign visitors could cause further infection spikes and opinion is split in the Japanese capital.

A recent poll showed only 27% of people wanted the event to go ahead as planned, while a third called for the games to be scrapped altogether.

Yuki Furusho is a student in the city.

"I think the interaction between people will cause further spread of the coronavirus, and it is more likely that the virus may mutate if the infection numbers are increasing. I feel that is a bit scary."

The traditional torch relay to signal the countdown to the Olympics is due to begin in Fukushima on March 25, while the games themselves are scheduled to begin in the last week of July.