About 10,000 volunteers back out of Tokyo Olympics with just 50 days until Opening Ceremony

About 10,000 volunteers slated to work at the Tokyo Olympics have decided to drop out for various reasons, including the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, according to The Associated Press.

The news comes just 50 days before the Games are set to begin.

“We have not confirmed the individual reasons,” organizers said in a statement, via The Associated Press. “In addition to concerns about the coronavirus infection, some dropped out because they found it would be difficult to actually work after checking their work shift, or due to changes in their own environment.”

The loss of the unpaid volunteers drops the total count down to about 70,000 for both the Olympics and Paralympics. Organizers said that the loss won’t impact the Games.

The volunteers, per the report, generally receive meals on the days that they work and get a uniform. They usually have to pay their own lodging, but get daily commuting costs covered.

COVID-19 concerns in Japan

Japan again last week extended a state of emergency for much of the country through mid-June due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The state of emergency will now run through June 20, and includes both Tokyo and Osaka. The Olympics, which were already postponed a year due to the pandemic, will kick off on July 23.

Japan has had more than 752,000 confirmed cases of the coronavirus since the pandemic began, as of Thursday night, and more than 13,000 deaths, according to The New York Times. Only about 3% of the country is fully vaccinated.

There has been significant, growing opposition to the Games in Japan. According to The Associated Press, between 50-80% of Japanese citizens do not want the Olympics to take place in Tokyo. Organizers have already announced that international fans will not be permitted, but have yet to decide about local fans.

Despite the opposition both locally and abroad, organizers and the IOC have repeatedly said that the Games will move forward safely.

“The Tokyo 2020 organizing committee will absolutely make sure to protect the health of the athletes,” organizing committee president Seiko Hashimoto said, via The Associated Press.

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