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Olympics official sees ‘real problems’ in holding Games in 2021

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Tokyo Olympics 2020 AFP / Mladen ANTONOV

A senior Olympics official has warned that holding the postponed Tokyo Games next year faces “real problems”, with even a vaccine unlikely to stave off the threat of the coronavirus.

John Coates, the International Olympic Committee’s pointman for Tokyo 2020, indicated that officials would start deciding in October if and how the pandemic-hit Games could go ahead in July 2021.

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He told a roundtable organised by Australian media giant News Corp that Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been clear the Tokyo Olympics could not be delayed a second time.

“We can’t postpone it again and we have to assume that there won’t be a vaccine or, if there is a vaccine, it won’t be sufficient to share around the world,” he said.

Without the safety net of a widely available vaccine, there could be enormous challenges in screening tens of thousands of people from all corners of the world, he said.

“We’ve got real problems because we’ve got athletes having to come from 206 different nations,” said Coates.

“We’ve got 11,000 athletes coming, 5,000 technical officials and coaches, 20,000 media, we’ve got 4,000 working on the organising committee there at the moment, there will be 60,000 volunteers coming,” he said.

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“There’s a lot of people.”

Coates said if there are signs the pandemic is contained, even if not eradicated, by October, officials will start preparing “the different scenarios by which the sport could take place”.

“Do we quarantine the Olympic village? Do all athletes when they get there go into quarantine? Do we restrict having spectators at the venues? Do we separate the athletes from the mixed zone where the media are?”

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Crime gangs threaten COVID-19 vaccine campaigns, Interpol warns

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Interpol on Wednesday warned authorities worldwide of the threat from organized crime groups during upcoming Covid-19 vaccination campaigns, including fake vaccines and the theft of supplies.

Distribution of three new coronavirus vaccines is set to begin soon and many people will be desperate to protect themselves as quickly as possible, offering ready targets for criminals.

"As governments are preparing to roll out vaccines, criminal organizations are planning to infiltrate or disrupt supply chains," Juergen Stock, head of the global policing agency based in Lyon, France, said in a statement

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In historic first, UK to introduce Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine next week

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Britain on Wednesday became the first country to approve a Covid-19 vaccine for general use, announcing a rollout of Pfizer-BioNTech's jab from next week in a historic advance for humanity's fightback against the coronavirus.

"It's the protection of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reclaim our lives and get the economy moving again," Prime Minister Boris Johnson said after the approval by the UK's independent medicines regulator.

But he urged the public to remain cautious on the day that England exited a four-week lockdown and re-imposed regional curbs.

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Americans are staying jobless for longer as pandemic stretches on

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Eleanore Fernandez lost her job as an executive assistant when the coronavirus pandemic struck in March, and things have only grown worse in the months since.

Her husband, a professional musician, was also put out of work, and she is just weeks away from losing the US government unemployment benefits that have helped sustain Fernandez and her teenage daughter.

"I've never been in a situation where it's like, this hairy," Fernandez told AFP, noting she is "taking more out of my savings account."

"I'm going to run out soon if nothing happens," she said.

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