TOKYO (NEXSTAR) — As the Tokyo Olympics begin to wind down and COVID-19 cases in Tokyo spike, the question becomes “What happens when everyone travels back home?”
It’s not an optimistic outlook from Dr. Stephen Thomas, a SUNY Upstate Medical University infectious disease professor — but it’s a realistic one.
“We are one of the global hot spots,” he said.
As athletes, media, staff, coaches, and Olympic organizers prepare to travel back to the United States, Thomas says things have changed.
“They should understand that they’re coming back to a different place,” Thomas said.
This is thanks to the delta COVID-19 variant, which spreads faster than many of the original strains of COVID-19.
“And as much COVID activity you’re seeing in Japan and Tokyo specifically, you’re going from a warm spot to a hot spot,” Thomas said.
And in Tokyo, we’ve seen athletes test positive and not be able to compete. Thomas says that could be an incentive for others to get vaccinated.
But he believes the main incentive should be your life.
“I’m not a dramatic person or a melodramatic person. But really, the incentive is your life. This new virus variant, in addition to being more infectious, we feel very confident is also more severe,” he said.
Thomas is glad the Olympic Games happened — even with the challenges and changes.
“I am personally glad that they did it and tried very hard to mitigate risks so they could do it,” he said.