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Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Tokyo Olympics will begin in just over two months even if the city or other parts of Japan are under a COVID-19 state of emergency, International Olympic Committee Vice President John Coates said during a news conference Friday, according to AP.

Why it matters: The Games have already been postponed once, and Japan's latest coronavirus surge has pushed parts of the country's health system to a breaking point.

Context: The Tokyo Medical Practitioners Association — a group comprised of about 6,000 doctors — has called for the Games to be canceled due to the recent upsurge of cases in Japan, which has struggled with its vaccine rollout.

  • The group's main concern is that Japan's health system may not be able to accommodate the international teams' possible medical needs because it may have to respond to new cases.

What they're saying: “The advice we have from the WHO (World Health Organization) and all other scientific and medial advice that we have is that — all the measures we have outlined, all of those measures that we are undertaking are satisfactory and will ensure a safe and secure games in terms of health,” Coates said, according to AP.

  • "And that’s the case whether there is a state of emergency or not," he added.
  • “If it doesn’t then our position is that we have to make sure that we get on with our job. And our job is to ensure these games are safe for all the participants and all the people of Japan.”

The big picture: 40 towns that had registered to host athletes have abandoned those plans, and 59.7% of people in Japan think the Olympics should be canceled, according to a recent poll.

  • Japan's abnormally low vaccination rate likely stems from a cultural barrier that has slowed the process from the start, as well as a reliance on foreign supply of vaccines.

Go deeper: Japan's 11th hour COVID Olympics nightmare

Go deeper

Aug 28, 2021 - Sports

U.S. Paralympian Brad Snyder wins triathlon gold

Paralympian Brad Snyder. Photo: UAdam Pretty/Getty Images

U.S. Navy veteran and Paralympian Brad Snyder won gold in the men's paratriathlon on Friday at the Tokyo Paralympic Games.

Why it matters: Snyder, 37, became the first U.S. man, Olympic or Paralympic, to win gold in a triathlon event.

Aug 27, 2021 - Health

U.S. opens COVID-19 vaccination site for arriving Afghans

Refugees board buses that will take them to a processing center after they arrive at Dulles International Airport after being evacuated from Kabul. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The U.S. has set up a coronavirus vaccination site for Afghans arriving at the Dulles International Airport in Virginia, a White House official told Axios.

State of play: Upon arrival, all Afghan evacuees are first tested for the virus and vaccines are then offered to those who test negative. The Federal Emergency Management Agency set up the vaccination site at the Dulles Expo center, and the vaccines are being administered by the Department of Health and Human Services, the White House official said.

China builds its own movie empire

Expand chart
Data: Gower Street citing Comscore; Chart: Kavya Beheraj/Axios

China blocked all four of Disney's Marvel movies from being released in its theaters last year, a grim sign for U.S. film giants being squeezed out of the world's fastest-growing box office.

Why it matters: The Chinese Communist Party is using domestic films as a key conduit for mass messaging aimed at achieving political goals, leaving little room for foreign views.