A leading scientist in Japan has claimed that the Tokyo Olympics, currently scheduled for the summer of 2021, will likely be canceled unless a vaccine can be created for the novel coronavirus.
According to Sky News, Professor Yoshiharu Matsuura, from the Research Foundation for Microbial Disease of Osaka University, has claimed that the storied sporting event -- which was already postponed from its original date of July 2020 -- will not be able to take place without a vaccine for COVID-19, per recent governmental discussions.
"They want to push ahead with the Olympics next year and they are saying the only way for that to happen is the vaccine," he stated.
As a result, the island nation is placing a substantial focus on creating a vaccine for the virus, which has so far infected around 21.6 million people around the world and claimed 775,000 lives.
"In Japan, the government is putting large emphasis on vaccine development and a medicine for the virus because of the Olympics," Matasuura added.
That said, the professor confessed that the Land of the Rising Sun was lagging behind other nations in vaccine development. A large reason for this is that the Asian country has incredibly strict rules governing laboratory testing and other aspects of medicine, meaning that progress has been slower than in countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom.
President Trump has voiced hope that a potential new drug could be ready by election day, and Russia has already approved a new medication claiming to protect against the coronavirus. However, health experts have voiced their doubts about the latter's effectiveness, as was previously covered by The Inquisitr.
Though Matasurra has voiced his woes about his home country's slower pace, he has expressed hope that the recent procurement of government funds will help the country catch up.
"Japan is really lagging behind in the race but the pharmaceutical companies, universities and vaccine manufacturers have gotten large funding from the government and proper work started about a month ago," he said.
Despite the progress made by other nations, Professor Matasurra has pointed out that a successful foreign vaccine might not be available to Japanese citizens immediately, necessitating that the nation try to create its own vaccine regardless of planning the sporting event.
"Vaccines are actually a part of national defense and it is a given that the vaccines are manufactured locally," he concluded.
He has also expressed concerns about the speedy development, despite his hopes for a way to prevent the disease.
Despite rumors of the Japanese officials canceling Tokyo 2021, the games are currently slated to begin next July 23.