TOKYO – The vaccine rollout in Japan has been very slow with less than 1% vaccinated, causing concern about the postponed Tokyo Olympics that are scheduled to open in just over three months.
Taro Kono, the minister in charge of the vaccine rollout, said last week that even if the Olympics go on, it’s possible the venues will be empty. This is partly because of the low vaccination rate.
Fans from abroad are already banned from the Olympics, and it's hard to imagine venues even half-filled with mostly unvaccinated fans. Many non-Japanese entering Japan are expected to be vaccinated.
Q: Are Japanese athletes being vaccinated?
A: This is a minefield for the organizers and the Japanese government. It will be very unpopular to push young, healthy athletes to the front of the vaccination line when almost no one else in Japan is vaccinated. Traffic on social media is strongly opposed.
Kono, organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto and Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said the government so far has not issued any plans to vaccinate athletes.
However, Kono has said he is ready to deliver vaccines if Hashimoto and the government think they're needed.
“So far, there is no consultation or no action about Japanese athletes getting vaccine,” he said.