Japanese doctor says Tokyo Olympics should be halted

A man wearing a mask walks past a countdown clock for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. (AP pic)

TOKYO: The Japanese doctor who created a media firestorm with videos criticising the quarantine of a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship said he now believes the Tokyo 2020 Olympics should not go on.

Kentaro Iwata, a professor of infectious disease at Kobe University, said on his blog on Thursday that it’s not clear that the outbreak in Japan will have subsided by the planned start of the Games in July.

Also, the flood of foreign visitors could exacerbate the spread of the disease, known as Covid-19.

Japanese government officials have said the Olympics will go ahead as scheduled and will not be held behind closed doors.

“The Olympics are not just a mass gathering, but a mass gathering from all over the world, while Covid-19 is a global pandemic,” Iwata wrote. “These two things don’t go together.”

Iwata boarded the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship in February and his YouTube videos decrying the conditions there garnered more than a million views.

Iwata said that bureaucrats, and not infectious disease professionals, were running the quarantine, and that basic protocols on zoning and the use of protective gear were not followed.

Japan has recorded more than 1,600 cases of the virus, including about 700 from the Diamond Princess. Thirty-nine people have died, including seven from the liner.

The virus has spread around the world, with more than 218,000 confirmed cases and 8,900 deaths.