Olympics Tokyo Japan Nurses Protest
A barge with the Olympic rings floats on the water at Odaiba section in Tokyo. Photo: AP/Eugene Hoshiko/File
tokyo 2020 olympics

Nurses say they are needed elsewhere, not at Tokyo Olympics

82 Comments
By YURI KAGEYAMA and STEPHEN WADE

Some nurses in Japan are incensed at a request from Tokyo Olympic organizers to have 500 of them dispatched to help out with the Games. They say they’re already near the breaking point dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Olympic officials have said they will need 10,000 medical workers to staff the games, and the request for more nurses comes amid a new spike in the virus with Tokyo and Osaka under a state of emergency.

“Beyond feeling anger, I was stunned at the insensitivity," Mikito Ikeda, a nurse in Nagoya, told the Associated Press. “It shows how human life is being taken lightly.”

The appeal for more nurses is typical of the impromptu changes coming almost daily as organizers and the International Olympic Committee try to pull off the games in the midst of a pandemic.

The Olympics are set to open in just under three months, entailing the entry into Japan — where international borders have been virtually sealed for a year — of 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes and thousands of other officials, judges, sponsors, media and broadcasters.

In a statement from the Japan Federation of Medical Workers' Unions, secretary general Susumu Morita said the focus should be on the pandemic, not the Olympics.

“We must definitely stop the proposal to send as Olympic volunteers those nurses, tasked with protecting the fight against the serious coronavirus pandemic," Morita said.

“I am extremely infuriated by the insistence of pursuing the Olympics despite the risk to patients' and nurses' health and lives.”

A protest message saying that nurses were opposed to holding the Olympics went viral on Japanese Twitter recently, being retweeted hundreds of thousands of times.

Even before the pandemic, Japanese nurses were overworked and poorly paid compared with their counterparts in the United States or Britain.

Nursing is not only physically taxing but also emotionally draining, said Ikeda, who has been a nurse for 10 years. He said many nurses worry about getting infected themselves, with vaccination rates in Japan reported at only 1-2%.

“It’s hard for any hospital to go without even one nurse, and they want 500,” Ikeda said. “Why do they think that’s even possible?”

Deaths attributed to COVID-19 in Japan have just passed 10,000.

The British Medical Journal last month said that Japan should “reconsider” holding the Olympics, arguing that “international mass gathering events ... are still neither safe nor secure.”

Haruo Ozaki, chairman of the Tokyo Medical Association, has said it will be “extremely difficult” to hold the Olympics because of the new variants that are spreading.

He also explained that Japan’s medical community has been stretched while treating coronavirus patients and also doing the vaccine rollout.

“We have heard enough of the spiritual argument about wanting the games,” he said. "It is extremely difficult to hold the games without increasing infections, both within and outside Japan.”

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga suggested that nurses who have quit their jobs could help with the Olympics, although some resignations are tied to the stressful work dealing with coronavirus patients.

“I hear many are taking time off, and so it should be possible,” Suga said last week, in a widely criticized remark.

Athletes will operate in a “bubble” at the Olympics, housed in the Athletes' Village on Tokyo Bay and moved around in designated buses to venues and training areas. Hundreds of rooms are also reportedly being set up outside the village to take in those who fall ill.

Organizers will require daily testing for athletes and other participants, a momentous task for medical staff. It also contrasts with how little testing is being done for the Japanese public.

Public opinion surveys show up to 80% of the Japanese want the Olympics canceled or postponed again. Much of the bill for holding the Olympics, estimated officially at $15.4 billion, falls on Japanese taxpayers.

“The situation is extremely serious," opposition lawmaker Tomoko Tamura said recently. "Nurses don’t know how they can possibly take care of this situation. It is physically impossible.”

© Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.


82 Comments
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Nurses say they are needed elsewhere, not at Tokyo Olympics

....and they are completely right. They are needed at hospitals and nursery homes, not at a sports event with young and super-healthy athletes who are not affected by this virus.

How is this news?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Japan go forward just only loyal against the IOC !!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan has no showed the respect to the IOC with no bring down contributed nurses .

Despite the IOC makes the GHQ in their translation nowadays .

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What the priority order ? the games than vaccinations ?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No stop it anymore !! It is a man-made disaster by the Suga administration !!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

The rules of hospitality call for the host to sacrifice their own comforts in order to ensure that the guests needs are provided. This protocol has been a constant in most civilizations since ancient times. Shame on these selfish xenophobic nurses who refuse to treat invited guests with the respect called for.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Now it is doctors turn :

What pandemic? Doctors asked to volunteer at Tokyo Olympics : The Asahi Shimbun

http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/14342641

1 ( +1 / -0 )

IOC be like: Well, the Olympics were planned before the pandemic, so we think the Olympics have priority. First come, first served, right?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

No matter what transpires, the Olympics have lost their honor. Holding the Olympic games in the midst of the pandemic and asking 500 nurses to abandon their most important work to tend to the Olympics is criminal.

Rather 500 than nurses we need 500 bulldozers to turn the Olympic Bastille into pebbles.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

When vaccination distribution can be delayed why can’t the olympics be delayed . As simple as that

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Idiocracy at its finest.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

That's right. Stand you ground. Don't give in to this garbage. Enough is enough. Nurses should be given more time off and paid much more. They have been treated horribly by the government and it is becoming clearer and clearer.

It takes a special level of stupidity to make the remarks that Suga did. Never seen something so remarkably stupid from the leader of a country other than Trump.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Why would they need 500 nurses or 10,000 'medical workers'? It's a sports event, not a war.

Equip a temporary medical unit. Each team will bring their own doctor. Ask them to bring a couple of nurses too and use the temporary unit as required.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

People should go to places like CBC where they have this same article and urge Canadians and Canada to pull out and hope other countries follow.

Then the IOC will have no choice to cancel

4 ( +4 / -0 )

FACT: The I O C do not care if you die, not their problem, they say it is The Hosts Nation Problem.

The IOC wants cash, lots of cash.

This is a case of CASH v CARE.

And the winner is :

Hint, They do not care.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Not sure I get the context of the story but it seems The IOC are asking nurses to be Olympic volunteers is this "Parent teacher Association" Style Forced volunteers or free to say no? If I was a nurse in this pandemic I would certainly not be volunteering my time for free especially when there is a possibility even after taking the vaccine a risk of getting sick. But if somebody wants to volunteer their personal time to work at the olympics that is their choice. Not sure if it would look good on a resume that you took time of while people were sick to volunteer to work in the 2020/21 olympics I probably wouldn't hire you. Actually I won't hire anybody who has that on their resume it shows they don't care about other people. Without volunteers the olympics can't proceed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

No Olympics! Support the nurses!

7 ( +7 / -0 )

So good to hear them speak up and voice their opinion.

Much like politicians i guess they are not needed in the olumpics either and should be else where, best place for those politicians is a flushed toliet

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Knowing Mr.Suga's Government and the moral abyss of Ms.Koike, I'm pretty sure they'll just procure 500 Hostesses (nothing against them) with our tax money and dress them up in Nurse uniforms. Then act astonished when Athletes complain they can't perform basic medical services.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good for the nurses. Hopefully this will actually be a big hurdle for them. Would they actually ask the teams to bring their own staff / nurse?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Nurses everywhere are just viewed as disposable cannon fodder.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

I wonder how many are fine with going...

Just because the media don't show you otherwise doesn't mean it's not true...

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

They should have come out and said that sooner

1 ( +3 / -2 )

And sadly, here is what will happen; these incensed people will want to make their voices heard at the next election, but the only candidate will be an LDP stooge, or a coalition partner, or at best an opposition member who is a dropout LDP stooge and who quit the LDP when he didn't get his way. The LDP will maintain its current ranks and will say they are mandated to ask for said nurses to aid in the Olympics. There might be a few "retirements" along the way, but nothing is going to change out of this.

And sadly, I think you are right. It makes me truly wonder just why there aren't any decent politicians amongst the hundreds or thousands in this country. Hatoyama voiced his opinion yesterday, but where was he the rest of the time? I have barely heard from him since he stepped down as PM. And then there's the apathetic Japanese population that barely votes and only keeps shouganai'ing through life.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Olympics in middle of pandemic - crazy idiotism!!!

5 ( +5 / -0 )

@AiWonder: Good words

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Japanese citizens better get prepared the government will have this Olympics and the end result will weigh heavy on Japanese families because the cost and debt will skyrocket and the taxpayers will be left to foot the bill. The sponsors mainly large corporations have paid a lot of money for advertising and many are so deep in where as they can not cancel and pull out. Japan will be paying for this Olympics for years to come. It will be a hardship like it or not.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

let's stop with those Olympics. Nothing good can come out of it.

Take the loss; move on

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Don’t hold your breath! Whether or not nurses are needed elsewhere will be ignored by this out-of-touch old fossil government. The Games must go on with or without covid, athletes, nurses or a watching crowd. So-called democracy in Japan are the ancients at the top telling everyone else what to do while they stuff their pockets through cronyism.

12 ( +12 / -0 )

Talk to the hand Mr. Suga. Snap.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Very well said.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

It seems the nurses are much more smarter than the idiot politicians! In a national health crisis you should not allow mass gatherings like an Olympics event, and hospital staff is much more needed to care of the really sick and critical care patients, not a few spectators who may feel unwell or just need their blood pressure taken. That is a total waste of manpower and endagering patients in ICUs! Thos Politcians dont understand that the number of beds in ICUs available is meaningless if NO staff is there to take care of patients needs!

The vaccination must be speded up now thats the only thing that will work to stop this health crisis.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

The nurses have just taken Sugas’s words and told him to use them as a suppository.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

But I think these ladies (are male nurses a thing in Japan?) are holding the fate of the Olympics in their hands.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

How about each team bring their own medical team? Place the onus on them to take care of themselves!

-5 ( +3 / -8 )

Hear! hear! Stoked to hear that the nurses have spoken up and told the govt. where they can shove their nonsense.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Its good to be part of the olympics but it’s a no. Sadly to say we have a weird government.

-nurse here working in hyogo
9 ( +10 / -1 )

The nurses have spoken!

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Hundreds of rooms are also reportedly being set up outside the village to take in those who fall ill.

Great idea! Take those that get infected and secure them with thr general japanese population!

3 ( +5 / -2 )

“I am extremely infuriated by the insistence of pursuing the Olympics despite the risk to patients' and nurses' health and lives.”

And sadly, here is what will happen; these incensed people will want to make their voices heard at the next election, but the only candidate will be an LDP stooge, or a coalition partner, or at best an opposition member who is a dropout LDP stooge and who quit the LDP when he didn't get his way. The LDP will maintain its current ranks and will say they are mandated to ask for said nurses to aid in the Olympics. There might be a few "retirements" along the way, but nothing is going to change out of this.

8 ( +9 / -1 )

Suga needs wisdom in distinguishing between perseverance and obstinacy. It’s clear the virus will not just go away in a few months. The government urges self-restraint and avoiding crowds yet it is seeking to move nurses away from the front lines to hold an international mass gathering event which is still neither safe nor secure.

Japan is trying to gambaru its way out of the pandemic when making the wise and sensible choice is needed.

9 ( +10 / -1 )

Suga apparently thinks that nurses, who have bravely and selflessly endured the worst possible working conditions during the pandemic, are like water from a faucet. When you need them, you just turn on the faucet and they come out. I can't believe that this sort of bureaucratic robot is leader of a country that claims to be "developed."

16 ( +17 / -1 )

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga suggested that nurses who have quit their jobs could help with the Olympics, although some resignations are tied to the stressful work dealing with coronavirus patients.

Can we install a stray cat as prime minister? Would be far less damaging than this insensitive old goat.

11 ( +12 / -1 )

I would have been all for the Olympics had the JGov shown that they can vaccinate people in time. Four months and we're still at 1%. If they can't handle the vaccination, they can't handle the Olympics. These dinosaurs should just disappear.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

I hear many politicians are taking time off to enjoy themselves at izaka, yakiniku restaurants, and hostess clubs rather than plan ahead and focus on their constituents, so it should be possible to swap them out for some that want to do their jobs properly and responsibly.I think 500 or so should be possible, but a goal of 10,000 is best.

Love it, great post :)

out of how many nurses in Japan? It seems that the vast majority of nurses are ok with it.

Really? Are you a member of the nurses union and did you run a survey to know that majority of nurses are OK with it? Btw, whats with another new name?...if one speaks true wisdom no need to keep changing handles, is there ?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

What its going to take to cancel these Olympic games is for a few major countries to pull out and not send anyone. The world press is starting to take a closer look at what’s happening. Give it time.

13 ( +14 / -1 )

Well, Suga’s gaff certainly aged well. I wonder what he will do when every nurse at private hospitals says “p-off!”?

Maybe bring in the JSDF?

11 ( +12 / -1 )

Completely understandable, nurses that work in hospitals that can accept COVID patients are extremely overworked, pushed forward by little more than their own feelings of duty because the salary and conditions are terribly bad. In many places cleaning staff have quit completely (not that it comes out in the media) so nurses not only have to do their work but also the cleaning staff's for no extra pay.

Being seen as a disposable resource to waste in the Olympics is not something that they can take lightly.

18 ( +20 / -2 )

I think most of the countries with big Olympic delegations do bring their own medical teams and support staff.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I hear many politicians are taking time off to enjoy themselves at izaka, yakiniku restaurants, and hostess clubs rather than plan ahead and focus on their constituents, so it should be possible to swap them out for some that want to do their jobs properly and responsibly.

I think 500 or so should be possible, but a goal of 10,000 is best.

12 ( +14 / -2 )

Kyakusenbi_ArimasuToday 05:32 pm JST

@Alfie: My theory is that the government and large pharmaceutical companies have a very large population of individuals not vaccinated that they can test their own vaccines on and thus fill the wallets of said politicians and big wigs in the industries that will make the vaccine.

Everything's just so slow. Why is everything so slow? Surely wanting to hold the Olympics should have prompted the government to move faster but no, it's progressing at a snail's pace.

21 ( +22 / -1 )

@Alfie: My theory is that the government and large pharmaceutical companies have a very large population of individuals not vaccinated that they can test their own vaccines on and thus fill the wallets of said politicians and big wigs in the industries that will make the vaccine.

6 ( +9 / -3 )

As of yesterday only 20% of Japan's 4.7m health care workers had been vaccinated, according to the Daily Yomiuri. What on earth is the government playing at?

28 ( +29 / -1 )

In a time of deceit the truth is revolutionary

9 ( +10 / -1 )

glad we have some foreign press on field to report that, not only the kisha club

16 ( +17 / -1 )

I really wonder if the US...would be so adamant to hold this event.

Oh boy, you know they would! (not a good thing, though!)

I actually very seriously doubt it.

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Perhaps each country should come with their own medical care . . . . leaving the responsibility solely with the hosts increases liability . . . .

6 ( +7 / -1 )

I really wonder if the US...would be so adamant to hold this event.

Oh boy, you know they would! (not a good thing, though!)

But I also wonder, if the situation were reversed... what if the US, while pushing forward with hosting the olympics, had "low" cases and deaths but abysmal vaccination rollout, while Japan had the highest number of cases and deaths in the world, but a pretty great vaccination rollout... would Japan really pull out of the games? Even if it meant their athletes committing career suicide and possibly being banned from all future Olympics? I highly doubt they would.

The responsibility to cancel lies on the IOC and the Japanese government. The government's request for 10,000 medical staff and 500 more nurses will cripple the already struggling medical system, the shameful lack of vaccination and slow vaccine approval will put the Japanese medics, volunteers, etc at risk, not the (mostly, if not all) vaccinated foreign athletes and staff.

And even if a big country or two pulls out, are you sure that would cancel the entire Olympics?? I don't think the US is so special that if they pull out, the entirety of the Olympic games would collapse. At least half of the countries participating would have to pull out. But even then, Suga and the other stubborn politicians might still go through with it regardless, even if out of spite.

2 ( +7 / -5 )

People, not egos, need nursing.

15 ( +16 / -1 )

One more thing, you must think we are living in North Korea! Everyone has to do what "Dear Leader Jr. " wants!

Well, to be fair, judging by the current government actions it sure behaves as if it's running NK. Zero concern for what the public wants or doesn't want. It's almost as if LDP knew it will be re- elected no matter what it does..Oh wait...

19 ( +20 / -1 )

Yubaru

One more thing, you must think we are living in North Korea! Everyone has to do what "Dear Leader Jr. " wants!

I think you need to change the batteries in your sarcasm detector.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

@Howaito: They are not licensed in Japan so cannot practice. Not sure how that goes with private doctors traveling with teams though.

Fair point, but I'm sure if this actually was to happen J-govt would suddenly mysteriously move at lightning speed to create an" exemption" or to amend the relevant laws to make it happen.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

Happy for the nurses that they are sticking up for themselves. They’re already in enough danger as it is. Keep fighting and saying no!

24 ( +25 / -1 )

Some nurses in Japan are incensed at a request from Tokyo Olympic organizers to have 500 of them dispatched to help out with the Games. They say they’re already near the breaking point dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

If salary were determined by reason and logic, these nurses would be getting the inflated salaries of LDP and IOC officials and the LDP and IOC officials would be at food banks and setting up their blue tent tarps.

21 ( +22 / -1 )

When was the last time Suga set foot in a hospital?

Spoke with nurses?

Does Suga not ‘go to steak’ with any nurses?

He needs to up his game...

17 ( +19 / -2 )

Which is more important, athletes of people's lives? Wait...you really dont get it do you?

I read his comment as being sarcastic. But who knows.

20 ( +21 / -1 )

What a mess. A series of crappy decisions made by the selfish and inept.

Finally the real power may lie in those at the ground level. Nurses say no, volunteers say no, athletes say no.

All the sponsors, politicians and IOC members can’t do a thing to stop that.

20 ( +23 / -3 )

These are Japanese nurses, aren’t they? If Japan REALLY wants to host the games, how come these nurses are dissenting?

One more thing, you must think we are living in North Korea! Everyone has to do what "Dear Leader Jr. " wants!

6 ( +12 / -6 )

These are Japanese nurses, aren’t they? If Japan REALLY wants to host the games, how come these nurses are dissenting?

Oh just because they are Japanese they are supposed get in line and do what the PM wants? What an ignorant reply!

These nurses are dedicated to taking care of their patients, and not be used to promote the Olympics!

Which is more important, athletes of people's lives? Wait...you really dont get it do you?

9 ( +18 / -9 )

Exactly.

14 ( +16 / -2 )

If you Google the title of this article, this is reprinted in many leading newspapers.

It is absolutely shameful none of the major countries pulled out so far to put an end to this charade.

I really wonder if the US, Canada or Australia would be so adamant to hold this event.

34 ( +35 / -1 )

But, how can this be? Just a couple of days ago, there was this headline, "Japan really want to host the games."

These are Japanese nurses, aren’t they? If Japan REALLY wants to host the games, how come these nurses are dissenting?

19 ( +23 / -4 )

Focus should be on vaccinating everyone in Japan then life and the economy can get back to normal. This should be the main priority for this government.

33 ( +34 / -1 )

@Howaito: They are not licensed in Japan so cannot practice. Not sure how that goes with private doctors traveling with teams though.

8 ( +13 / -5 )

Suga should be the first one volunteering. He's basically doing nothing productive, so he should have plenty of time to help out at the Olympics. He is also one of the very few who jumped lines to get vaccinated.

34 ( +36 / -2 )

Let these rich IOC schmucks hire 500 private nurses and doctors. Then have them shipped over to their precious Olympic bubble.

50 ( +54 / -4 )

"Why would we listen to what a bunch of women say?", asked Mori and Suga in unison.

34 ( +37 / -3 )

I am extremely infuriated by the insistence of pursuing the Olympics despite the risk to patients' and nurses' health and lives.”

Wish Japanese public would remember at the upcoming autumn election that both Abe and Suga LDP govt put money for their cronies and tatemae Olympics ahead of public,s health and well-being throughout the whole covid19 crisis since last year. If ever a government deserved to be wiped out this is it ...alas TIJ.

43 ( +45 / -2 )

Next week I see some of my doctors and will talk to the nurses and tell them to outright refuse this nonsense.

37 ( +40 / -3 )

Good on the nurses. I support that 100%

71 ( +73 / -2 )

An absolute NO to even one hour of one nurse or doctor's time and a definite NO to olympics in 2021 but a yes for 2022

34 ( +40 / -6 )

Nurses just say...NO!

63 ( +65 / -2 )

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