No vaccination, no tests: Olympic planners wear down the volunteers

No vaccination, no tests
Olympic planners wear down the volunteers

There will be no foreign spectators and only vaccinated athletes: The Olympic Games in the pandemic should be made particularly safe. With one huge exception: the volunteers are not protected. The dangers are great – as is the lack of understanding.

Two cloth masks, a bottle of disinfectant spray and a guidebook: This is the complete corona safety package for the around 110,000 volunteers at the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo. Not more. Not even corona tests. While foreign spectators are not allowed into the country out of caution and all Olympic athletes are probably vaccinated, the organizers of the games let the huge army of volunteers commute freely and unprotected through the city.

Vaccination? Not at all! “We haven’t heard of that yet,” said Barbara Holthus to the SID. The Deputy Director of the German Institute for Japanese Studies in Tokyo had been looking forward to the games, including the official clothing for the volunteers. In 2018 she applied for the job. The enthusiasm has evaporated in view of the danger situation, even more: “I do not yet know whether I will really do this. It depends on the infection rate. Not even the allocation of self-tests is planned. So we will not be tested at all.”

Virus as a constant companion

Many others think like the scientist, who has lived in the metropolis for years. “If it stays that way,” says Holthus, “then many more will jump off.” She herself would be scheduled for rowing at the Paralympics. 80 minutes journey by public trains, which are always hopelessly overcrowded in Tokyo. The virus as a constant companion.

It stands to reason that the 80,000 volunteers at the sports facilities and the 30,000 in the city could become pandemic drivers. “There is a risk that the games will become a super-spreader event,” said Holthus, who can only shake her head in view of the “protective measures”: “We should make entries in the booklet two weeks before the games, as we did go, take your temperature every day, get enough sleep and eat well. “

FFP2 masks do not work either. “It’s so hot in summer that these masks would be too much of a burden, we were told,” reported Holthus. Another important message is: We need your smile. “It’s very insensitive when we’re all behind our masks,” said Holthus.

Situation is alarming

Not only their mood, “that in the whole country has turned 180 degrees compared to the time before the pandemic,” said Holthus, saying that the conditions were “bad” not only in Tokyo. People die in front of the hospitals because there are no free beds. The media reported “from one scandal to the next”.

The call to search for 500 nurses and 200 doctors to support the two major events heated the minds again. The situation is alarming, the state of emergency for Tokyo and five other prefectures was recently extended to May 31. “At the beginning of May, only two percent of the population and 25 percent of the medical staff were vaccinated,” said Holthus.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is heavily criticized for his poor corona management. Even if the IOC emphasizes like a prayer wheel that it wants to hold onto the games – the doubts remain. Especially since the Tokyo people are obviously not behaving accordingly. “All restaurants are jam-packed, including department stores and shops,” reports Holthus. In addition, the official number of cases in the country cannot be trusted anyway. “Positive findings are only reported if they come from the health department,” said Holthus, “all others do not have to be reported to the government. We are pretty much in the dark.”