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Governors refuse to allot hospital beds for COVID-infected Olympians

Chiba Gov. Toshihito Kumagai speaks at the prefectural government headquarters in Chiba, eastern Japan, on May 13, 2021, about the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee's request to allocate hospital beds there for athletes infected with the coronavirus. (Kyodo)

CHIBA, Japan (Kyodo) -- The governor of Chiba Prefecture said Thursday he has no plan to allocate hospital beds for Olympic athletes infected with the coronavirus, joining a growing chorus of voices calling on those involved in the Tokyo Games to be denied preferential treatment.

    Chiba Gov. Toshihito Kumagai said he has asked the organizing committee of this summer's Olympics and Paralympics, to be held largely in neighboring Tokyo, to refrain from being a drain on medical resources in his prefecture amid a resurgence of COVID-19 infections.

    Touching on the organizing body's hope to work with about 30 hospitals in the capital and its surrounding areas during the Summer Games, Kumagai told a press conference he is not considering allowing "precious beds for COVID-19 patients in the prefecture" to be occupied by Olympic athletes or those working on the games.

    Kumagai's comments came a day after the governor of Ibaraki Prefecture said he had rejected a similar request from the organizing body and added the Tokyo Olympics are "not something that must be staged" under any circumstance, proposing that cancellation be considered if the infection situation worsens.

    With less than three months until the scheduled opening of the Tokyo Olympics, an increasing number of people in Japan have been calling on the government and Olympic organizers to address public health worries and rethink the holding of the games.

    The governor of Kanagawa, a prefecture also neighboring Tokyo, told a press conference on Tuesday it cannot exclusively prepare beds for Olympic athletes as the medical system is already struggling to cope with a recent surge in infections.

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