COVID-19: Olympics public viewing area in Tokyo to become vaccination centre

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By Lawrence Oshodi (SPORTS REPORTER) –

Governor of Tokyo, Yuriko Koike, has announced plans to use a park supposed to host public viewing for the Olympic Games as a coronavirus vaccination centre.

Koike, who told the city parliament of the plan on Tuesday, however, didn’t not say if the Yoyogi park will still be used for public viewings during the postponed Games, set to start on July 23.

According to local media, critics fear the virus will spread if hundreds of people get together to watch the competitions on large screens in a cordoned-off “Olympic Live Zone” in the middle of the park as planned.

Trees have already been trimmed for this purpose, which also caused criticism. Tokyo is planning 12 public viewing locations, according to the media.

In spite of the extremely slow start of the vaccination process in Japan, Tokyo is planning to begin a larger-scale vaccination of 60,000 police officers and firefighters from June 8.

However, the area will be used for transport purposes during the Olympic Games and will be closed from the end of June.

According to Koike, the public viewing area at the Yoyogi park will be used for vaccinations from July instead.

Japanese prime minister, Yoshihide Suga is under pressure domestically because of the slow vaccination process and defended himself against criticism of the coronavirus and Olympics policies.

“It is my duty to protect people’s lives and health. The priority will not be put on the Olympic Games,” Suga said at a committee meeting on Tuesday, local media reported.

Suga added that the conditions for the Games were the safety of the people after appropriate measures had been taken against coronavirus infections among athletes and tournament officials.

In January, the prime minister said that the Games would serve as proof “that humanity defeated the coronavirus”. This idea hasn’t changed, Suga was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

The number of new coronavirus infections had been decreasing in some areas such as Tokyo, but Suga said that overall, the situation remained “unpredictable.”

Tokyo is currently under a coronavirus state of emergency until June 20. (With a report by dpa/NAN)

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