Japan could call up military doctors and nurses from its Self-Defence Forces to help at this year’s Tokyo Olympics, defence minister Nobuo Kishi said in parliament on Tuesday.
Kishi said that his house has received a request to this matter from the Games organisers, DPA reports.
The armed forces have started to operate the vaccination centres in Tokyo and Osaka this week to help speed up Japan’s extremely slow vaccination process just two months ahead of the planned start of the postponed Olympics.
According to Olympics organisers, up to 230 doctors as well as 310 nurses will be needed daily at the Games. So far, around 80 per cent of the required number of medical staff has been secured, they said.
Local organisers and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) insist the Games can go ahead safely despite Japan fighting a fourth wave of the pandemic and Tokyo being continually placed in states of emergency — the latest extending to the end of this month.
Tokyo 2020 coordination commission chair John Coates pointed out that more than 80 per cent of the residents of the Olympic village will have been vaccinated by the time of the Games.
Foreign fans will not be permitted to attend the Games, which were delayed from last year, while the numbers attending from federations, sponsors and media have been cut.
A recent survey conducted by the Kyodo news agency showed that 72 per cent of those polled in Japan want the Olympics cancelled or rescheduled due to the pandemic.