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Expert Doubts Olympics Will Happen Next Year

Professor says he is 'very pessimistic'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 20, 2020 4:01 PM CDT

(Newser) – A Japanese professor of infectious disease says he is "very pessimistic" the postponed Tokyo Olympics can open in 15 months. "To be honest with you, I don't think the Olympics is likely to be held next year,” Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious disease at Kobe University, said Monday on a teleconference. "Holding the Olympics needs two conditions; one, controlling COVID-19 in Japan, and controlling COVID-19 everywhere." Toshiro Muto, the CEO of the Tokyo organizing committee, expressed his own reservations 10 days ago. Since then, the organizing committee and the International Olympic Committee have said there is no "Plan B'' other than working for the Olympics to open on July 23, 2021, the AP reports.

"I am very pessimistic about holding the Olympic Games next summer unless you hold the Olympic Games in a totally different structure such as no audience, or a very limited participation," Iwata said. "You have to invite so many athletes from many, many places, which is not very compatible with this COVID-19 infection that is causing a pandemic. Japan might be able to control this disease by next summer. And I wish we could. But I don’t think that will happen everywhere on earth.” Japan was largely spared during the initial stage of the coronavirus outbreak. But cases are now spiking, particularly in Tokyo and other large cities. Devi Sridhar, professor of Global Health at the University of Edinburgh, tells the BBC that the Olympics may hinge on finding an "effective, affordable, available vaccine."

(Read more 2020 Olympic Games stories.)

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