Olympic officials are downplaying concerns that the loss of thousands of volunteer workers in recent weeks could jeopardize the Tokyo Games.
Japan continues to struggle in dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, which forced the Games to be postponed last year and rescheduled for next month.
CNN reported that as of Wednesday, about 10,000 of 80,000 registered volunteers supporting athletic events had quit, according to Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee officials.
Toshiro Muto, chief executive of the committee, told Japanese media he did not believe the loss of volunteers would impact the operation of the Games, scheduled to begin July 23.
The Olympics depend on volunteers to help staff and operate facilities and venues, and assist spectators and athletes. The loss of more workers could create additional difficulties for organizers.
However, with no foreign spectators allowed into Japan for the Olympics due to COVID-19, organizers might not need as many volunteers as other host cities have used in recent years.
A large number of volunteers left in February, when organizing committee chief Yoshiro Mori resigned after sexist remarks he made in a meeting were leaked.
Officials did not explain why most of the 10,000 volunteers quit, but CNN said the pandemic likely was a major issue.
Muto said doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine will be provided to Olympic athletes, but not to volunteers, who are being asked to use public transportation to commute to the Games.
Most Japanese residents oppose holding the Olympics, according to polls. The country’s hospital have been overwhelmed by a fourth COVID-19 wave, and the vast majority of Japanese residents remain unvaccinated.
The editorial board of The Asahi Shimbun, one of the country's leading newspapers, called for the Games to be canceled. The board said Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was holding the Olympics "against the will of the public.”
According to Johns Hopkins University, Japan has reported more than 752,000 total coronavirus cases and more than 13,200 deaths. Daily new cases decreased in recent days down to the low thousands after nearly 8,000 on April 29.
Rolling out vaccines to those eligible — only the elderly and medical professionals — also has gone slowly. CNN said that while there is enough supply to vaccinate much of the country's 126 million people, there is a bottleneck — only nurses, doctors, and dentists are authorized to administer the shots.
Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said the International Olympic Committee would give Japan 20,000 vaccines, but negotiations continued to determine who would receive those doses.
A group of U.S. public health experts have warned that holding the Olympics as planned could pose a risk for athletes and the public. They said organizers needed to reconsider their approach to risk management, and recognize the limits of measures such as temperature screening.
"We believe the IOC's determination to proceed with the Olympic Games is not informed by the best scientific evidence," the authors wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine. "For us to connect safely, we believe urgent action is needed for these Olympic Games to proceed."
Japanese business leaders also have expressed concern about the games. Hiroshi Mikitani, CEO of e-commerce giant Rakuten, told CNN last month it would be a "suicide mission" for Japan to host the event.
The Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association, an organization of about 6,000 doctors in the capital, wrote a letter calling for the games to be canceled in May.
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