The organisers of the Tokyo Olympics have sparked anger in Japan’s medical community after they asked 500 nurses to volunteer at this summer’s games.
The request came as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and organisers pressed ahead with plans to hold the Games, even as the coronavirus pandemic continued to worsen in the host nation, amid warnings that the event could place an intolerable strain on exhausted health workers.
The total number of Covid-19 deaths in Japan recently passed 10,000 – the highest in the region – while media reports said the number of people with severe Covid-19 symptoms reached a record 1,050 at the weekend.
Medical staff in Tokyo and other areas where cases are surging say their professional focus must remain on coronavirus patients and people with other illnesses who have had their treatment delayed due to the virus.
Osaka prefecture, the epicentre of Japan’s fourth wave, has run out of beds for seriously ill patients, with other people suffering from the virus forced to spend hours waiting in ambulances before they can be admitted.
Olympic officials say 10,000 medical workers will be needed during the Games, which will be held during the hottest time of the year.
But a recent request to the Japanese Nursing Association to send 500 of its members to Tokyo 2020 was met with a wave of anger on social media from nurses who said they were too busy to devote time to the Olympics.
A tweet by a local federation of medical unions outlining it opposition to performing Olympic duties has received hundreds of thousands of retweets in recent days.The secretary general of the Japan Federation of Medical Workers’ Unions, Susumu Morita, said the pandemic should take priority. “We must stop the proposal to send nurses who are engaged in the fight against a serious coronavirus pandemic to volunteer at the Olympics,” Morita said in a statement. (Guardian)