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  • #46
    • IOC reveals China has offered vaccines to Tokyo and Beijing Olympic athletes

    The Chinese Olympic Committee has offered vaccine doses to be used for participants at this year’s Tokyo Olympics and the Beijing Winter Games in 2022, the International Olympic Committee confirmed on Thursday.

    “The IOC has received a kind offer from the Chinese Olympic Committee, hosts of the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, to make additional vaccine doses available to participants in both editions of the Games,” the IOC president, Thomas Bach, said.

    “The Chinese Olympic Committee is ready in cooperation with the IOC to make these additional doses available … either via collaboration with international partners or directly in countries where agreements regarding Chinese vaccines are in place.”

    Bach was addressing an online presentation by the new Tokyo Games chief, Seiko Hashimoto. He did not provide any details on the number of doses. More than 10,000 athletes will take part in the Olympics, with several thousands more involved as coaching staff, media, volunteers and officials.

    “The IOC will pay for the additional doses of vaccines not only for Olympic but also Paralympic teams,” Bach added. “For each of these doses the IOC will pay for two doses more which can be made available to the respective countries’ population.”

    Bach, who was re-elected for a second term as president earlier this week, also said “a significant number” of Olympic athletes have already received vaccines. “The IOC will make every effort to have as many participants arriving already vaccinated in Japan,” he said. “I can inform you that a significant number of Olympic teams have been vaccinated in line with national guidelines.”:
    • Tokyo Olympics to go ahead this summer — but without foreign spectators, national news agency says

    Japan has decided to bar foreign spectators from this summer's Tokyo Olympics, the Kyodo news agency said on Tuesday, citing government officials. The decision, which hadn't been publicly confirmed by Japanese officials, comes after weeks of mounting pressure from a public worried about visitors who could carry the coronavirus into the country, including some highly-contagious new variants.:

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    • #47
      Overseas spectators banned from Tokyo Olympics over COVID fears

      Spectators from overseas will not be permitted to attend the Summer Olymipics in Tokyo, the International Olympic Committee and local organizers announced Saturday.

      Why it matters: The decision highlights "the realities of COVID-19 even as [the organizers] forged ahead with plans to hold the world’s largest sporting event," the New York Times writes.

      What they're saying: "Currently, the COVID-19 situation in Japan and many other countries around the world is still very challenging and a number of variant strains have emerged, whilst international travel remains severely restricted globally," Tokyo organizers said.
      • "In order to give clarity to ticket holders living overseas and to enable them to adjust their travel plans at this stage, the parties on the Japanese side have come to the conclusion that they will not be able to enter into Japan at the time of the Olympic and Paralympic Games."
      • "This conclusion will further contribute to ensure safe and secure Games for all participants and the Japanese public."
      • Of note: Athletes are not required to be vaccinated, but many of them likely will be, per AP.
        • The president of the IOC announced earlier this month that China had offered to provide vaccinations to Olympic and Paralympic competitors who required one ahead of the Games.

      The big picture: The Tokyo organizing committee had expected $800 million income from ticket sales. The Japanese government will have to make up for lost income, AP reports.
      • While organizers said that spectators will be refunded, this ultimately will be decided by resellers that handle sales outside of Japan. "These dealers charge fees of up to 20% above the ticket price. It is not clear if the fees will be refunded," AP writes.

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      • #48
        2nd attempt

        Tokyo Olympic torch relay kicks off

        Torch Relay Kicks Off For Troubled Tokyo Olympic Games

        Athletes holding the Olympic torch set off on a relay run Thursday morning in Japan's northeast, showing the organizers' determination to proceed with the Summer Games, despite widespread public skepticism.

        The relay is set to crisscross across Japan and arrive at the opening ceremony in Tokyo on July 23.

        The runners will deliver not only the torch, but also Tokyo's political message that Japan has recovered from a 2011 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown, and that mankind has vanquished the COVID-19 pandemic.

        Critics say both of these claims are premature.

        Dressed in white track suits, members of Japan's 2011 women's World Cup-winning soccer team set out at a jog from a soccer training complex in Fukushima, the area hit by the 2011 triple disaster.

        They carried a torch made of aluminum, recycled from prefab housing built for the calamity's survivors.

        Each of the relay's 10,000 runners will carry the torch 200 meters — about 220 yards — on a course traversing all of Japan's 47 prefectures.:

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        • #49
          Kneeling, raised fists during national anthem allowed at U.S. Olympic Trials

          Team USA athletes will not be punished for kneeling or raising their fists during the national anthem at this summer's Olympic trials, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee said Tuesday.

          In a nine-page document, the USPOC detailed permissible "racial and social justice demonstrations," expanding athletes' chances for expression. The document comes three months after the committee said it wouldn't punish Team USA athletes for "respectfully demonstrating." In December, the USOPC requested the International Olympic Committee to end the prohibition on peaceful protests and demonstrations.

          Many athletes called for the International Olympic Committee to alter Rule 50, which previously forbid protests and demonstrations from USOPC athletes.

          The new rules apply to all future U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Trials events and are not applicable to the Olympic and Paralympic Games, or any competition or forum outside of Trials venues. Permissible demonstrations include kneeling and holding up a fist during the anthem, wearing hats or face masks with phrases such as "Black Lives Matter" or words such as "equality" or "justice."

          Hate symbols, discriminatory remarks, violent protests and behaviors that physically impeding athletes’ right to compete, such as laying on a track, are among the list of actions not allowed.

          The document states that acceptable demonstrations should involve "advancing racial and social justice; or promoting the human dignity of individuals or groups that have historically been underrepresented, minoritized, or marginalized in their respective societal context.":

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          • #50
            A preview of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

            U.S. State Department considering joint boycott of 2022 Beijing Olympics

            The State Department said Tuesday that it was considering a possible joint boycott of the 2022 Beijing Olympics, as calls have grown for the U.S. to back out of the event due to human rights violations in China.

            "It is something that we certainly wish to discuss," State Department spokesperson Ned Price said, adding that "a coordinated approach will be not only in our interests but also in the interests of our allies and partners."

            Price emphasized the importance of working closely with other countries, so that any step the U.S. takes would have more influence on Beijing. He said that the State Department is currently weighing different approaches to respond to the Chinese government, pointing to sanctions that the U.S. recently enacted with the U.K., Canada and the European Union over the human rights abuses.

            A spokesperson for the U.S. Olympic Committee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.:

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            • #51

              Just over one hundred days remain until the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, which are planned to be a celebration of humanity, courage and resilience. Delayed by COVID-19, Tokyo 2020 will bring together athletes from all over the world, helping to reunite a scarred world.

              The organisers have had to make major adjustments to host the Games in a way that protects everybody’s health. But some things will not change: as planned from the outset, Tokyo 2020 aims to use its reach and visibility to highlight solutions to help create a more sustainable world. A broad-based coalition of partners, including Japan’s National Olympic Committee, the Tokyo Metropolitan Government (TMG), the Government of Japan, related local governments, sponsors and other delivery partners are united by the slogan: “Be better, together — For the planet and the people.”

              “At the heart of Olympism is the idea that sport can help us build a better world,” said the IOC's Tokyo 2020 Coordination Commission Chair, John Coates. “In just over three months, the eyes of the world will be set on Tokyo 2020. While our number-one priority is to organise safe Olympic and Paralympic Games for everyone, this is also an opportunity to raise global awareness about the need to live more sustainably and show that tools and solutions to achieve this exist.”:
              • 72 percent of Japanese polled want the games canceled or postponed over slow vaccine rollout

              On Monday, a Kyodo News poll showed that the majority of those asked in Japan are in favor of postponing or canceling the games altogether. Here are the stats from a Kyodo News poll:

              "Amid lingering concern over a fourth coronavirus wave and the slow progress of vaccination, the poll found 39.2 percent believe the postponed Olympics and Paralympics should be canceled, while 32.8 percent think they should be rescheduled. Only 24.5 percent responded that the games should be held as scheduled.":

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              • #52
                Head of Tokyo Olympics again says games will not be canceled

                The head of the Tokyo Olympics on Friday was again forced to assure the world that the postponed games will open in just over three months and not be canceled despite surging COVID-19 cases in Japan.

                Organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto was asked at a news conference if there were any conditions under which the Olympics would be canceled.

                The question comes as the general secretary of ruling LDP political party, Toshihiro Nikai, raised the possibility the day before.

                “There are a variety of concerns but as the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee we are not thinking about canceling the games,” Hashimoto said.

                Nikai, the No. 2 person in the LDP party, was asked on Thursday in an interview if cancellation was still an option.

                “Of course,” he replied, adding that if the Tokyo Games caused a surge in infections “there would be no meaning to having the Olympics.”

                Nikai tried to backtrack later, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga issued a statement Thursday saying there is “no change to the government position to do everything to achieve safe and secure Olympics.”

                Hashimoto acknowledged Nikai’s concern and suggested it was probably shared by the Japanese public. Polls show as many as 80% in Japan oppose holding the Olympics during the pandemic.

                “The fact that he (Nikai) is concerned is a point that we need to take seriously as Tokyo 2020,” she said. “His comment has reminded us of how tedious it was for us to feel confident or be fully prepared for delivering the games.”

                COVID-19 cases have been rising across Japan. Despite this, the International Olympic Committee and Tokyo organizers are pressing on. The IOC, which relies on selling broadcast rights for 73% of its income, has seen its cash flow stalled by the postponement. Japan has already invested at least $15 billion to organize the Olympics, and national audits suggest it might be twice that much. All but $6.7 billion is public money.

                In an editorial this week, the British Medical Journal questioned Japan and the IOC going ahead with the Olympics. Organizers have said the Olympics will be “safe and secure,” which the editorial challenged.

                “While the determination is encouraging, there has been a lack of transparency about the benefits and risk, and international mass gathering events such as Tokyo 2020 are still neither safe nor secure,” the editorial said.

                On Thursday, the government minister in charge of Japan’s vaccine rollout, Taro Kono, said even if the Olympics go on, there may be no fans of any kind in the venues. He said it’s likely that the Olympics will have to be held in empty venues, particularly as cases surge across the country.

                Fans from abroad have already been barred.

                Hashimoto, who had said previously that a decision on venues would come in April, seemed to push back that deadline. She was not asked about Kono’s suggestion and did not raise the issue or challenge it.

                “Within April I would like to set the basis direction,” she said. “The final judgement time — this as well we need to monitor the situation of the pandemic and we need to remain flexible for that.”

                Organizers had hoped to generate $800 million from ticket sales. Much of that revenue will be lost and the Japanese government will have to cover the shortfall.

                No fans of any kind might simplify matters. Organizers can then focus solely on 15,400 Olympic and Paralympic athletes entering Japan, and keeping in a bubble in the Athletes Villages, the training sites, and at the competition venues. Tens of thousands of judges, officials, media and broadcasters will also have to enter Japan.

                The vaccine rollout in Japan has been slow with less than 1% having had the shot. The numbers will be better in three months, but will contrast sharply with non-Japanese entering the country. A large percentage of those are expected to be vaccinated, including athletes.

                Hashimoto said Japanese athletes were not a “priority” for vaccination. Putting athletes at the head of the line has been largely opposed in Japan.

                The IOC has said vaccination is not a requirement to participate in the Olympics. On the other hand, IOC President Thomas Bach has left no doubt he wants as many athletes vaccinated as possible.

                Japanese Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told reporters Friday that the government is considering conducting daily virus tests on athletes during the games as a way to guarantee safety. Previous plans had called for virus tests every four days.

                Marukawa also said the government was not talking about prioritizing athletes for vaccination.

                On Thursday, Japan’s second-largest metropolitan area of Osaka recorded 1,208 new cases. It was the third straight day that new cases surpassed 1,000. Tokyo hit 729, its highest total in more than two months.

                Japan has attributed 9,500 death to COVID-19, good by world standards but poor by results in Asia.

                The national government on Friday was to add four more prefectures to those already under a “quasi-state of emergency.” This brings the total to 10 and now includes Tokyo neighbors Kanagawa, Chiba and Saitama.:

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                • #53
                  • Tokyo Olympic torch staffer becomes event's 1st COVID-19 infection

                  A police officer helping with Japan's Olympic Torch relay has become the first participant in the event to be diagnosed with COVID-19, organisers said on Thursday.

                  A man in his 30s tested positive for the virus after working on the relay in Kagawa prefecture on Japan's southern island of Shikoku, Tokyo 2020 said in a statement.

                  The officer was guiding traffic in the town of Naoshima on Saturday and came down with a fever on Sunday, the Asahi Newspaper reported, citing organisers and prefectural police. The man wore a mask and had no contact with runners, the report said.

                  Separately, two runners, a TV personality and a former Olympian, dropped out of a relay event due to be held in the western prefecture of Tottori next month, public broadcaster NHK reported.

                  Public support for the Games has waned amid concern the event will exacerbate COVID-19 infections, now battering the country in a fourth wave. Japan's government is expected to declare a state of emergency, the third in the past year, in the major population centres of Tokyo and Osaka this week.:

                  Related news........
                  • Japan to declare targeted state of emergency as Covid cases surge

                  Japan is hoping that a short blast of tough coronavirus measures will halt a recent surge in coronavirus cases, with the prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, poised to announce a targeted state of emergency for Tokyo, Osaka and two other prefectures, just three months before the Tokyo Olympics.

                  Suga has come under pressure to take action after a sharp rise in infections in the capital, and evidence that new variants of the virus are driving serious outbreaks in Osaka and the two neighbouring prefectures of Hyogo and Kyoto.

                  Japan’s third state of emergency since the start of the pandemic will coincide with Golden Week – several days of consecutive holidays during which there is normally a huge increase in domestic travel.

                  The measures would go into effect in the four areas – covering about a quarter of Japan’s population and a third of its economy – from Sunday until at least 11 May, media reports said.

                  While Japanese authorities are unable to impose European-style lockdowns, bars and restaurants will be asked to close, while large-scale events, such as football and baseball matches, will be held behind closed doors.

                  Department stores and shopping malls will also be asked to close – although shops selling essential items will stay open – as well as theme parks, theatres and museums. Bus and train services will be reduced during public holidays and weekends, the Nikkei business newspaper reported.:

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                  • #54
                    Japan declares COVID emergency with less than 100 days until Olympics

                    With 88 days until the Tokyo Olympics, a "fourth wave" of the pandemic has hit Japan.

                    Driving the news: Bars, department stores and theaters across Japan will remain closed for 17 days, after Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency for Tokyo and three other prefectures.
                    • A senior member of Japan's ruling party recently questioned Tokyo's ability to host the Games and said cancellation is still an option.
                    • The Olympic torch relay has been detoured several times since it began on March 25 and will be banned altogether this weekend.

                    The state of play: The surge in infections and Olympics concerns have put a spotlight on Japan's lagging vaccine rollout.
                    • As of last week, Japan had administered just over 2 million vaccine shots, which is roughly 1% of its population, per Forbes.
                    • The U.S., by comparison, has administered nearly 230 million shots, enough for 42% of Americans to get one dose.

                    What's next: Tokyo organizers and the IOC will unveil a new "playbook" this week, explaining how the Olympics and Paralympics will safely welcome 15,400 athletes, AP reports.


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                    • #55
                      I just don't see how it can go ahead.


                      • #56
                        Thailand’s Olympic flag relay hits halfway point but Games in doubt

                        Thailand’s countdown to the Tokyo Olympics reached halfway as the “Flag of Nation” relay runners crossed from Chai Nat to Nakhon Sawan province on Monday, the 30th day of the event.

                        The relay run bearing the Thai flag through 35 provinces began on March 21 and will stretch for 61 days and 4,606 kilometres – roughly the distance between Bangkok and Tokyo.

                        The finish line for Monday’s run was the 2,303km milestone, with Tuesday’s leg winding from Nakhon Sawan Central Stadium to Chumchon Pracha Samakkhi School in Kamphaeng Phet province over a total distance of 68.5km.

                        The Thai flag will be carried by 4,568 bearers – athletes, celebrities and members of the public – before being delivered to Suvarnabhumi Airport to take off with the Olympic athletes on May 27.

                        The Tokyo Olympics are due from July 23 to August 8.

                        However, the chief of Japan’s ruling party warned earlier this month that the Games could be cancelled if a new outbreak of Covid-19 could not be contained.

                        “If the situation comes to the point where we cannot take it anymore, we should call off the Games without hesitation,” said Toshihiro Nikai.

                        “What’s the point of holding the Olympics if it boosts the spread of infection?” he added.

                        Meanwhile, Kyodo News agency recently carried a poll stating that 72 per cent of Japanese people want the Olympics to be cancelled or postponed.:

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                        • #57
                          OLYMPICS Six Tokyo Olympic torch staffers diagnosed with COVID-19

                          Six people who helped with Japan's Olympic Torch relay were diagnosed with COVID-19, bringing the total number of participants in the event who got the coronavirus to eight, organisers said.

                          The six people, who included a man in his 20s and another man in his 30s, helped on the relay in the southern prefecture of Kagoshima on April 27, Tokyo 2020 said in a statement late on Saturday.

                          All of them assisted with traffic control and wore masks, with three of them doing so in the city of Amami and the other three in the city of Kirishima, said the organisers.

                          Earlier last month, two other people who helped with the torch relay on the southern island of Shikoku were diagnosed with COVID-19, including a police officer in his 30s who guided traffic in Kagawa prefecture. read more

                          The Tokyo 2020 organisers urged people to comply with COVID-19 guidelines.

                          Japanese authorities are determined to protect Games participants and a local population that opinion surveys have shown is largely opposed to the Olympics due to fears the event will lead to more COVID-19 infections. read more

                          Japan last month declared a COVID-19 state of emergency for the major population centres of Tokyo and Osaka and two other areas set to last until May 11 to contain a fourth wave of infections. read more

                          The Games, delayed by a year because of the pandemic, are scheduled to open on July 23.:

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                          • #58
                            Japan reportedly considering extending Covid state of emergency, casting doubts on Tokyo Olympics

                            Japan is considering extending a coronavirus spurred state of emergency in the capital, Tokyo, and other major urban areas, sources said on Wednesday, a move that could cast doubt on the planned Summer Olympics.

                            Officials were leaning toward an extension of the measures in Tokyo, Osaka, Kyoto and Hyogo prefectures beyond May 11 as the country battles a surge in Covid-19 cases, three sources told Reuters.

                            The government may make an official decision as early as Friday, one of the sources told Reuters. The Yomiuri Newspaper earlier reported that an extension of the state of emergency was likely.

                            Extending the measures, which were imposed on April 25, would likely fan persistent concerns about whether the Tokyo Olympics, scheduled to begin on July 23, can be held as planned.

                            The games have already been delayed once from last year due to the pandemic. The city of Sapporo, on the northern island of Hokkaido, hosted a half-marathon test event on Wednesday.

                            Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will meet with senior government ministers on Wednesday to discuss an extension, the Yomiuri reported without citing sources. The Yomiuri did not detail how long an extension might be.

                            One proposal that has emerged is an extension until the end of the month, according to two of the sources. All three people requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak with the media.

                            The governor of Osaka Prefecture said an extension of three weeks to a month may be necessary, according to domestic media.

                            Calls by Reuters to Suga’s office were not answered. Japan’s government buildings and financial markets were closed on Wednesday for annual Golden Week holidays.

                            International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach is expected to visit Japan later this month, but an extension of the state of emergency could prompt renewed calls from the public to cancel the games.

                            Under the state of emergency in Tokyo and other urban areas, the government required restaurants, bars, and karaoke parlors serving alcohol to close. Large department stores and cinemas were also shuttered, while spectators were banned from big sporting events.

                            It was uncertain whether the government will loosen any of the operating restrictions on the services sector, the Yomiuri said.:

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                            • #59
                              • Pfizer And BioNTech To Donate Vaccines For Olympic Athletes

                              Vaccine developers Pfizer and BioNTech will donate doses to inoculate athletes and officials preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, the IOC said Thursday.

                              Delivery of doses is set to begin this month to give Olympic delegations time to be fully vaccinated with a second shot before arriving in Tokyo for the games, which open on July 23.

                              It’s the second major vaccination deal for the International Olympic Committee. An agreement was announced in March between the IOC and Olympic officials in China to buy and distribute Chinese vaccines ahead of the Tokyo Games and next year’s Beijing Winter Games.

                              The new Pfizer offer gives the IOC greater coverage worldwide ahead of Tokyo with most countries yet to authorize emergency use of Chinese vaccines.

                              “We are inviting the athletes and participating delegations of the upcoming Olympic and Paralympic Games to lead by example and accept the vaccine where and when possible,” IOC President Thomas Bach said in a statement.

                              The Pfizer donation followed talks between the firm’s chairman and CEO, Albert Bourla, and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga.

                              “Following this conversation, the Japanese government had a meeting with the IOC and now the donation plan has been realized,” Pfizer said in a statement.:
                              • Laurel Hubbard to become first transgender athlete to compete in Olympics

                              New Zealand weightlifter Laurel Hubbard is set to become the first transgender Olympian after qualifying for this summer's Tokyo Games.

                              The state of play: Hubbard, 43, has effectively been guaranteed a spot in the women's super heavyweight category after the IOC amended qualifying rules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

                              Hubbard competed in men's weightlifting until she transitioned in 2012, and she's been eligible to compete as a woman since 2015, when the IOC issued new guidelines.

                              Those guidelines allow transgender athletes to compete as women as long as their testosterone levels are below 10 nanomoles per liter for at least 12 months before their first competition.:

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                              • #60
                                Anti-Olympic petition gains tens of thousands of signatures

                                An online petition calling for the Tokyo Olympics to be canceled has gained tens of thousands of signatures since being launched in Japan only days ago.

                                The rollout of the petition comes with Tokyo, Osaka and several other areas under a state of emergency with coronavirus infections rising — particularly new variants. The state of emergency is to expire on May 11, but some reports in Japan say it is likely to be extended.

                                The postponed Olympics are to open in just under three months on July 23.

                                The petition is addressed to International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, who has tentative plans to visit Japan later this month. He is expected to meet the Olympic torch relay on May 17 in Hiroshima, and perhaps also travel to Tokyo where small anti-Olympic are protests being planned.

                                Although 70-80% of Japanese citizens in polls say they want the Olympics canceled or postponed, there is no indication this will happen. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Tokyo organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto, and Bach have repeatedly said the games will go on as scheduled.

                                Organizers and the IOC unveiled so-called Playbooks last week, explaining rules for athletes and others to show how the Olympics can be held in the middle of a pandemic. Several test events have been conducted in the last few days, and organizers have reported few problems.

                                The Olympic torch relay has been crisscrossing Japan for a month. Organizers say that eight people working on the relay have tested positive for the virus.

                                The Tokyo Olympics have become a face-saving exercise for Japan, which has officially spent $15.4 billion to prepare them. For the IOC, the Tokyo Olympics are critical since 73% of its income comes from selling television rights.

                                Organizers say the Olympics will be “safe and secure,” though his has been challenged by local medial specialists, and in an editorial last month in the British Medical Journal. It said mass events like the Olympics are “neither safe nor secure.”

                                Organizers say they will need 10,000 health workers to support the Olympics. They have also requested 500 additional nurses — a nurses’ federation balked at the request — and 200 sports medicine specialists.:

                                Keep your friends close and your enemies closer


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