by Emi Amemiya Although there are a total of 844 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) cases in Japan, Japanese officials decided to proceed with preparations for the 2020 Olympics, which begin on Friday, July 24. Coronavirus cases have spread beyond the cruise ship to Okinawa, Wakayama, other parts of the country, and even Tokyo.
There are 700 confirmed cases linked to the Diamond Princess, a cruise ship, not including the infected passengers who’ve gone home. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have reported that 36 people who were passengers on the Diamond Princess have been confirmed as carrying the virus.
With many known cases, the coronavirus has decreased tourism in Japan. In March of 2011, Japan’s economy shrunk several times due to the tragic earthquake and tsunami. This year, officials hope the 2020 Olympics will attract visitors and promote Japanese business. Japan is hoping the 2020 Olympics will bring more tourists back into the country. Nearly ten million Chinese tourists visited Japan in 2019, but now they’re staying away.
Even though the preparation is being continued, people are still worried it will spread to the visitors or the athletes. “We have to be very careful about what kind of infectious diseases will appear at the Tokyo Olympics. At these kinds of mass gatherings, the risks increase that infectious disease and resistant bacteria can be carried in,” Kazuhiro Tateda, president of the Japanese Association for Infectious Diseases says. The chief executive of the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee is Toshiro Muto, who believes the way we act will affect the level of fear in people. “We need to make sure the public, the athletes, and the stakeholders feel safe and secure. We have to be objective and cool-headed as we don’t want to instigate a sense of fear.”
All in all, although Japan has the second-highest number of coronavirus cases, preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympics are proceeding cautiously in order to protect visitors and athletes.