ICU doctor says Olympics venues are a calm “bubble”

Japanese doctor Shoji Yokobori says his days as an emergency medical officer at the Olympics are strangely quiet.

He oversaw weightlifting this week, where by Tuesday (August 4), he was yet to see a major injury, and so far, no cases of the coronavirus.

“Now I feel so (safe) here, because we have no COVID-19 inside, and you know, we don’t feel the pandemic, just like in a bubble.”

Tokyo’s Olympics bubble where more than 80% are vaccinated against the coronavirus is a sharp contrast to Yokobori’s regular life on the outside running the intensive care unit at Nippon Medical School Hospital in Tokyo.

But that world is never far away.

He still receives urgent calls from his own hospital staff, asking questions like whether to use lung support for critical COVID-19 cases.

“When we go back to the real world, like in a hospital, and you know, there are many patients of COVID-19 existing here, so now we are struggling every day. Our team is also (struggling), so this also makes a little exhaust(ed). So like, you know, heaven and hell.”

The doctor’s worried about Japan’s worsening number of cases and said he is prepared to leave the Olympic venue permanently to return to the hospital should the virus situation worsen.

For Japanese culture that takes pride in exquisite hospitality, the doctor has been forced to provide a lower level of service than he would prefer, to prevent cross-contamination between his workplace and the Olympic venues.

All in all, Yokobori, a fan of tennis player Naomi Osaka, said he was still proud to contribute to the Olympics.

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