WASHINGTON — A top medical group that represents thousands of doctors in Tokyo has called for the cancellation of the summer Olympics, saying in a letter that hospitals in the host city are already overwhelmed by a spike in COVID-19 cases.
"We strongly request that the authorities convince the IOC [International Olympic Committee] that holding the Olympics is difficult and obtain its decision to cancel the Games," the Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association said, according to Reuters, in a May 14 letter to Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga posted online Monday.
The organization explained that amid a surge in coronavirus infections in Tokyo, hospitals "have their hands full and have almost no spare capacity."
While public sentiment in Japan against the Olympics seems to be rising, there's no indication the games, which are scheduled to open in just 66 days, will be canceled.
Tokyo and other areas are currently under a state of emergency over rising coronavirus infections. Cases continue to rise in Japan, where less than 2% of the population has been fully vaccinated.
Last month, the British Medical Journal suggested the games be “reconsidered” and last week an online petition with more than 350,000 signatures calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled was submitted to local officials and the IOC.
Organizers and the IOC say they will hold the games safely, isolating 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes in a “bubble” and repeatedly testing them and the tens of thousands of others — judges, staff, sponsors, media and broadcasters — who will enter a country that has had its borders sealed for a year.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.