Olympic Rings monument in Tokyo, Japan

The summer games in Tokyo are fewer than 50 days away. But officials face an uphill climb as they prepare: 10,000 of 80,000 unpaid volunteers for the Olympics and Paralympics have decided not to participate. Organizers said the loss would not affect operations.

Can the Olympics happen safely? The International Olympic Committee expects at least 80 percent of athletes and residents of the Olympic Village to be vaccinated against COVID-19. But only 2-3 percent of Japanese residents are fully vaccinated, making many volunteer staffers increasingly uneasy.

The Japanese government has resisted calls by some to delay the Summer Olympics once again amid the slow rollout of vaccines in the country. Officials postponed the games last year due to the pandemic.

A poll released last month found 83 percent of Japanese people want the Olympics canceled. 

Dig deeper: Read June Cheng’s report about why the 2022 Olympics, set for Beijing, may also face some trouble.

This story originally appeared in WORLD. © 2021, reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

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