- Samoa stranded due to COVID-19
- The withdrawal comes just over three weeks before the start of the Games
- Setback of Japan’s efforts to successfully organize the event
- Japan plans to extend virus brakes in capital region
MELBOURNE, July 1 (Reuters) – Samoa withdraw their weightlifting team from the Tokyo Games due to COVID-19 restrictions, its Olympic committee said on Thursday, the latest setback in Japan’s massive efforts to stage the biggest sporting event in the world during a pandemic.
Eleven Samoan athletes have qualified for the Games, but among them only three, his weightlifters, are based in Samoa and have not been allowed to attend the event which is expected to start later this month, told Reuters committee chairman Patrick Fepuleai.
“We are still in a state of emergency, we are confined,” he told Reuters by phone. The Pacific island nation will be present at the Games as other athletes who are already overseas are ready to go, he added.
Disappointed by the news, Samoa weightlifting boss Tuaopepe Jerry Wallwork told Reuters: “It’s terrible, it’s disheartening, it’s very disheartening.”
“There will be a huge impact on the athletes, it took us many years to prepare for the event,” he added.
The Summer Games are scheduled to start on July 23, after a year of delay due to the pandemic. But polls show a majority of Japanese still oppose holding the event this year amid warnings from health experts that it could spark another wave of infections and spawn newer variants. powerful.
Japan is likely to extend coronavirus prevention measures in the greater Tokyo area by two weeks or more, government sources said, after new infections in the capital rose to 714 on Wednesday, the highest in more than ‘a month. Read more
Depending on the extent of the pressure on the medical system, the government could restore a total state of emergency for Tokyo, the sources added. Read more
Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures are among areas subject to a “near” state of emergency until July 11, and maintaining the borders could affect the number of spectators allowed to enter Olympic venues, the sources said.
The leader of one of the ruling parties in Japan said organizers should consider holding the Games without spectators, national broadcaster NHK reported.
“I hope they make a timely decision and consider the possibility of not allowing spectators,” said Natsuo Yamaguchi, who heads Komeito, the junior partner in the ruling coalition with the Liberal Democratic Party.
FUKUSHIMA CANCELS PLANS
The COVID-19 situation also prompted officials in Fukushima Prefecture to cancel events scheduled to show its recovery from the ravages of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami, which led to the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.
The prefecture, forever synonymous with nuclear calamity, will host baseball and softball events at a stadium about 70 km (41 miles) from Tokyo Electric Power-owned Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant (9501.T) on the coast. Peaceful. Read more
Events to promote prefecture food and other produce, while giving spectators information on efforts to revive evacuated towns as areas are cleared of fallout, will all be canceled due to the fight against viruses, its governor said.
“We must cancel, given the current situation,” Governor Masao Uchibori said at a press conference in a video on the prefecture’s website. “I’m not going to lie – I blame this new coronavirus.”
Reporting by Jonathan Barrett in Sydney, Ian Ransom in Melbourne, Sakura Murakami and Aaron Sheldrick in Tokyo; Editing by Himani Sarkar
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