The Olympic rings are illuminated in front of the National Stadium in Tokyo. Photo: REUTERS/file
tokyo 2020 olympics

Japan denies considering vaccine priority for Olympic athletes

37 Comments
By Elaine Lies

Japan said on Thursday it was not currently looking to prioritize COVID-19 vaccines for Olympic athletes, dismissing a media report that sparked a social media outcry since the country's inoculations are trailing other major economies.

Only a million people have received the first dose of the Pfizer vaccine since February, out of Japan's population of 126 million, and the more vulnerable elderly do not even start getting their shots until next week.

New infections have spiked ahead of the Olympics, which are set to start in July. Tokyo saw 545 new cases on Thursday and its governor said she would ask the central government to impose emergency measures in the capital region.

A Kyodo news agency report, citing government officials, said Japan has begun looking into the possibility of ensuring its Olympic and Paralympic athletes are all vaccinated by the end of June.

"Give it to my mother first," one Twitter user wrote, adding: "Athletes are all young and healthy."

While the government has said it will push ahead with the Olympics as planned from July 23, a vast majority of Japanese want the Games to be cancelled or postponed again.

The outrage on social media continued despite Chief Cabinet Secretary Katsunobu Kato denying the report and saying that the government was not looking to give priority to athletes. "This is really weird. Given that we have no idea if even all the elderly will have received their vaccines by mid-June, you're going to have all the athletes have theirs?" a user with the handle "Aoiumi2" posted on Twitter.

Others noted that Japan's original plan gives priority to medical workers, the elderly and those with chronic conditions, with ordinary citizens unlikely to get theirs before the summer.

A number of test events for some sports have recently been cancelled or postponed due to concerns about the pandemic, and on Tuesday leading business executive Hiroshi Mikitani wrote on Twitter that holding the Games was "risky".

"Honestly, I feel that the Olympics this summer are just far too risky. I am against them," wrote Mikitani, the CEO of Japanese e-commerce group Rakuten Inc.

Even so, much of corporate Japan is still mobilized behind the Olympics. Atsushi Katsuki, the CEO of Asahi Group, said he stood by holding the Games and that the leading beer maker had benefited from being a sponsor.

"I want the Olympics and Paralympic Games to be held," Katsuki said in an interview with Reuters.

© Thomson Reuters 2021.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

37 Comments
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1 million people have received the first dose since February

1 million in about 7 weeks.

At this rate hell will freeze over and the cows will come skating home before we get our jabs.

And the government want to give healthy young folk priority.

And they're surprised at the outrage?

Seriously?

35 ( +37 / -2 )

It gets better day by day these Olympics 2021.

And it hasn’t even started yet!

19 ( +23 / -4 )

Lives before games. Period.

28 ( +30 / -2 )

If only the Japanese people would transfer that fury into throwing these clowns out of office...

38 ( +40 / -2 )

I cannot agree more with Mikitani. It is stupid to hold the Olympics in such a dire situation.

21 ( +23 / -2 )

Toss Grandma and Grandpa under the bus.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Well Japanese and Permanent Foreign Residents we will be brothers and sisters from now on if that scene to inoculate Olympic athletes comes first. We will all be put at the back of the line to get the leftover vaccine, if there are any syringes left. As the athletes peer and prance think of your love ones dying back home.

This Olympic has got to go.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

If the people really want to show their anger, those with tickets should demand their money back and not go to the events. And during TV airtime, don't watch a thing and therefore not watch any commercials.

13 ( +15 / -2 )

Boycott them ace holes, turn off the TV dont buy the sponsors products and never ever vote for these politicians again.

18 ( +18 / -0 )

I thought people here didn't want the vaccine? Make up your mind

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

So China offers to vaccinate all Olympic athletes and Japan rejects this, because....??? opting instead to let unvaccinated participants into the country, and then considers letting its own athletes jump the starting gun on the rest of the public, who are left in the dust of government confusion over vaccine regulation and roll out. This would make great theatre.

12 ( +13 / -1 )

According to government officials quoted by Kyodo late on Wednesday, Japan has begun looking into the possibility of making sure its Olympic and Paralympic athletes are all vaccinated by the end of June.

Couple of hundred of athletes at most, so what is the big deal. We spent 2 trillion yen for arenas and housing for these same athletes. Obviously we think that they are special.

-14 ( +1 / -15 )

So any deaths of unvaccinated Japan residents after these Olympics can be laid at the feet of the Tokyo Organising Committee, the Japan Olympic Committee and the IOC.

Of course, they'll be busy counting their gold, silver and bitcoin medals!

15 ( +16 / -1 )

It is inevitable that athletes will be vaccinated before the majority of the population, there is too much riding on these games to take that chance.

Japan will argue that the inocculation of the athletes will not come at the expense of the people who are in line. They will probably be right, but it leaves a bad taste. Nobody likes queue jumpers.

3 ( +5 / -2 )

That confirms the "all for Olympics" theory already seen in the testing strategy.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

It's out of order. I don't know a single person vaccinated. One million since the beginning of the year. 30 million UK citizens first jab. 5 million second jab.

The athletes should be getting their jabs in their own countries and well prior to travelling to Japan.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

The athletes should be getting their jabs in their own countries and well prior to travelling to Japan.

I think it only applies to Japanese athletes, not foreign athletes.

10 ( +10 / -0 )

The government don't represent the people. They represent Dentsu and IOC and whoever holds the most money.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

A quick and wise drawback....

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I got vaccinated in the UK at the same time my wife, a frontline worker was vaccinated in Japan

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Lives before games. Period.

Not on LDP watch.

If only the Japanese people would transfer that fury into throwing these clowns out of office...

Agreed...we can dream.But as we know..there is no one better, only LDP can keep Japan " safe" , they promised some extra subsidies to our inaka village farmers..and all that jazz.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

"Give it to my mother first," one Twitter user wrote, adding: "Athletes are all young and healthy."

If mother stays home and Twitter using son quits going to izakaya then there should be no problem. Vaccinating a few hundred athletes may make mother lose her spot in line for a day or two at most.

-11 ( +0 / -11 )

Vaccinating a few hundred athletes may make mother lose her spot in line for a day or two at most.

And why should mother be made to wait even a day longer than necessary? She's already waited months and is sick of staying at home.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

We go on and on about Japan/IOC should have cancelled the game.

Even western news, etc... Go on about it.

But why haven't these other countries complaining not just pulled out?

Let's face it if the EU countries, USA, Australia Canada, etc... Say they are not sending Olympic teams, others will follow then the old farts running the government will have no choice but to cancel the games.

It is one thing asking why Japan doesn't cancel. But we never ask if everyone wants the games cancelled, why are they still send their teams?

2 ( +4 / -2 )

And why should mother be made to wait even a day longer than necessary? She's already waited months and is sick of staying at home.

If she can qualify for the Olympics, then I would agree. I think so many of you, even long-time Japan residents, somehow are passive aggressive and enjoy seeing Japan fail. It is sad.

-15 ( +0 / -15 )

A Kyodo news agency report, citing government officials, said Japan has begun looking into the possibility of ensuring its Olympic and Paralympic athletes are all vaccinated by the end of June.

Yesterday, Kyodo's primary report noted "a" government official, without cross-checking from other sources. Have JT and posters here been trolled (BTW, I haven't :) ) ?

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

So it wasn't seriously.

Or more likely it was, and they stepped back when the excrement from the senpuki started hitting them in the face.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Or more likely it was, and they stepped back when the excrement from the senpuki started hitting them in the face.

My daughter's friend's father is a trainer for a team of a certain Olympic even.

Her friend told her that her father was asked if the team members were interested in getting vaccinated, that was right after the water polo thing happened.

Was it just an inquiry to see how many or who would or was it a serious proposal from the top.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Reckless, no it is about equity, fairness, as Japan is nominally a democracy the system must at least appear to be run fairly for all. As others noted, no one likes a queue jumper and as the event is already massively unpopular with the Japanese public and the only ones still cheering for it are those with a financial stake there is little or no justification for prioritising a handful of the population over the rest.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

Olympics 2020 and government of Japan distort response to Covid-19 since last spring, and caused many victim until now.

Medical workers in Japan had been compelled to even self-sacrifice with limited resources and salary to respond domestic Covid-19 epidemic that incompetent government has caused.

But vaccination to medical workers in Japan don't yet finish.

Torch relay for Olympics sponsors has spread infection risk to nationwide unnecessarily everyday.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

If you object to the Olympics being held then don’t just refuse to watch it, write to the companies sponsoring it and tell them the damage it will do their brand as well as supporting boycotts of their products. Nothing motivates a board like their bottom line so if that is threatened watch how fast they change their minds on supporting the Olympic Games!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Mods wake up, Russian propaganda Bot on site.

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

Torch relay for Olympics sponsors has spread infection risk to nationwide unnecessarily everyday.

How about GoTo? Everyone blames the Olympics when GoTo was the real culprit.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I've long been a supporter of holding the Games, but after reviewing the recent corona numbers... We're now at twice the numbers we had during the period the Games would have been held last year, and like SIX times the numbers of when the Games were officially postponed. How do they expect this to go off safely???

6 ( +6 / -0 )

In the US, TWO MILLION being vaccinated a day. In Japan? barely over 1 million. Period. Less than 1% of the population, when other countries are from 25% to 40% or more. By the time your average Joe can get them the mutations here will have rendered them useless. Why are they so "surprised" by the anger and outrage?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

In the US, TWO MILLION being vaccinated a day. In Japan? barely over 1 million. Period. Less than 1% of the population, when other countries are from 25% to 40% or more.

Don't be so complacent, and don't forget that the US has outnumbered many other countries by death tolls and case numbers.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Government says so, must be true.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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