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Physician warns Tokyo Olympics could spread COVID-19 variants

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Posted at 5:51 AM, May 27, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-27 07:53:22-04

A physician representing a Japanese medical body has warned that holding the Tokyo Olympics could lead to the spread of variants of the coronavirus.

Dr. Naoto Ueyama is the chairman of the Japan Doctors Unions. He says the IOC and the Japanese government are underestimating the risks of holding the games amid the pandemic.

Ueyama says it is very difficult to predict what might happen at the Olympics, and criticized IOC member Richard Pound for telling a British newspaper that “barring Armageddon” the Tokyo Olympics would open on July 23.

"The Olympic Games are not something that should be held even to the extent of Armageddon,” Ueyama said.

While the Japanese government and the IOC appear ready to forge ahead with the games, many in Japan are calling for the event to be canceled. While the country has opened two mass vaccination sites in recent days, only a tiny portion of the country's population has been vaccinated.

Earlier this month, the U.S. State Department issued an advisory against traveling to Japan — just two months before the games are set to begin. White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during a briefing this week that the Biden administration still expects U.S. athletes to travel to Japan for the games.