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Looking at the Timing of Japan’s State of Emergency

Doriti on Deposit Photos

Japan declared a state of emergency due to the increasing spread of C-19 just two weeks before the Olympics are supposed to kick off in Tokyo. Is there any specific meaning around the timing? Or should this state of emergency be taken seriously by Japan and those planning on participating in the games?

Do the numbers add up?

Calling a state of emergency just two weeks before the games is enough to give one last “good ol’ college try” to get the games canceled. Many Japanese officials have been calling for the games to be canceled as they still struggle with the virus. If a government calls for a state of emergency, we should listen to their warning and make a good faith effort to protect ourselves and others until the event is over. However, some of us are suspicious of the lack of drastic change in positive virus rates over the last few weeks.

The Japanese government called for a state of emergency on July 7. In the past 30 days, the seven-day average of new positive cases has decreased by as much as 38%. The current seven-day average is around 1,600. During the height of the pandemic in the United States, we saw that number around 253,000. The numbers just don’t add up.

Why a state of emergency could be justified

The other side of the argument is that Japan only has a 15% vaccination rate, and only 26.5% of their population has received at least one dose of it. So without a stable and efficient way to vaccinate their entire country, it is much harder to justify opening borders to athletes and fans from around the world.

Even if the entire population of Japan magically got their first dose today, the Olympics would start before any of those people were eligible for a second dose. The government probably saw the danger of inviting so many people into the country and had to take some course of action. 

We can no longer expect fans at the game. But with the NBA bubble, empty NFL stands and cardboard cutouts in baseball stadiums, we’ve made it through that already. So, the most important question continues to be, “Should the games go on as planned, or should they be canceled?”

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