The World Health Organization recently issued a dire warning that the second year of COVID-19 would be “far more deadly,” as Japan declared a state of emergency in response to mounting calls for the Olympics to be canceled.
“We’re on track for the second year of this pandemic to be far more deadly than the first,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
In Japan, the coronavirus outbreak spread to three more regions just 10 weeks before the Olympics, prompting campaigners to submit a petition with over 350,000 signatures calling for the Games to be canceled.
Hiroshima, Okayama, and northern Hokkaido, which will host the Olympic marathon, will now join the Tokyo and other areas already under emergency orders until the end of May.
The majority of Japanese citizens are opposed to the Games being held this summer.
“What the athletes need is a decision: is it happening or isn’t it?” Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer said on Friday. ”
“I would love to play in the Olympics… But if that doesn’t happen due to the situation, I would be the first to understand,” he added.
The pandemic has killed at least 3,346,813 people worldwide since the virus first emerged in late 2019, according to an AFP tally of official data.