Suga says plenty of nurses available to work Olympics since 'many are taking time off now'

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Suga says plenty of nurses available to work Olympics since 'many are taking time off now'

The controversial 2021 Olympics seems to be happening this summer in Japan, despite the majority of Japanese people thinking they should be cancelled or postponed again due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In order to carry out the Olympics as safely as possible, several measures have already been taken, such as not allowing spectators from outside the country, and recently, the organizers requesting 500 nurses to be on site at the Games.

That request has garnered much anger online, due to it being as seen taking necessary health workers from other locations and putting them to work at an event that shouldn’t even be happening.

However, on April 30 Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga reassured people that they would be able to fulfill the 500 requested nurses because: “I’ve heard many are taking time off now. So it should be possible.”
Foot-in-mouth syndrome?
 
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I've not heard of medical staff anywhere in the world taking time off now, except in cases of burn-out or illness where they aren't able to work or they really, really need the time off. It's not a time to ask more from over-stretched medical personnel.
 
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Nurses say they are needed elsewhere, not at Tokyo Olympics

TOKYO
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%.