Tokyo Olympics unrealistic without vaccine, says Japanese medical association
Experts have said it could take 12-18 months or longer to develop vaccine
The head of Japan's medical association thinks it will be difficult to hold the Olympics without an effective coronavirus vaccine.
"I hope vaccines and drugs will be developed as soon as possible," Japan Medical Association President Yoshitake Yokokura said Tuesday.
Japan and the International Olympic Committee agreed to postpone the Tokyo 2020 Summer Games until July next year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Japan is under a monthlong state of emergency amid a rapid increase of infections throughout the country, where hospitals are overburdened.
Yokokura did not say whether he opposes the Olympics without a vaccine.
"The key is a situation with the infections at that point. If the infections are under control only in Japan, it will still be difficult to hold the games unless the pandemic is over in the rest of the world," he said.
Experts have said it could take 12-18 months or longer to develop a vaccine that is safe and effective for clinical use.
Japan has 13,576 reported virus cases, plus 712 others from a cruise ship quarantined near Tokyo earlier this year, with 389 deaths, the health ministry said Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Tokyo 2020 president Yoshiro Mori said that the Olympic Games, already postponed to 2021, would be "scrapped" if they could not take place then, according to an interview published on Tuesday.
The International Olympic Committee and the Japanese government last month postponed the Games until July 2021 because of the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.
With the epidemic's worldwide infection rate climbing and experts suggesting a vaccine is still a long way off, questions are being asked about whether the huge setpiece event might need to be delayed further.
PM believes Games will go ahead
"No. In that case, the Olympics will be scrapped," Mori said in the interview with Japanese sports daily Nikkan Sports, when asked if the Games could be postponed again until 2022.
However the former prime minister remained confident they would go ahead in 2021.
"We have delayed the Olympics until next summer after we will have won the battle," he was quoted as saying.
"The Olympics would be much more valuable than any Olympics in the past if we could go ahead with it after winning this battle. We have to believe this otherwise our hard work and efforts will not be rewarded."
with files from Reuters