Story at a glance
- New COVID-19 cases in Tokyo reached a six-month high.
- New cases surpassed last Thursday’s total by 671.
- At least 91 people affiliated with the Olympics have tested positive for COVID-19 thus far.
New COVID-19 cases in Tokyo reached a six-month high the day before the delayed Olympic Games kick off in the nation’s capital.
The Tokyo government recorded 1,979 cases, marking the highest total since Jan. 15 when the count reached 2,044, The Associated Press (AP) reported. New cases surpassed last Thursday’s total by 671.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency earlier in July, which will last throughout the games. And domestic spectators have been barred from attending events in-person.
Suga reportedly told the International Olympic Committee (IOC) at a closed-door meeting Tuesday that the Olympic Games can be held safely, saying “we can bring success to the delivery of the Games.”
“Such fact has to be communicated from Japan to the rest of the world,” Suga continued. “We will protect the health and security of the Japanese public.”
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The prime minister is expected to meet with first lady Jill Biden and World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Thursday, according to the AP.
But Tokyo Olympics organizing committee CEO Toshiro Muto has not ruled out canceling the games should the health crisis prove an untenable situation for organizers and athletes. When asked if there was a chance that the Games could be canceled, Muro replied the governing bodies “will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases.”
“We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises,” Muro said.
At least 91 people affiliated with the Olympics have tested positive for COVID-19 thus far, and Games organizers have gone to great lengths to limit athletes commingling in the Olympic Village. USA Gymnastics, to protect their own athletes, said Tuesday their competitors would stay in a nearby hotel rather than in the notoriously busy camp.
IOC President Thomas Bach previously assured Suga the prime minister that 85 percent of the athletes and officials living in the Olympic Village would be fully vaccinated, adding that nearly 100 percent of IOC members and IOC staff were “vaccinated or immune.”
Japan reported more than 4,900 new cases and 20 deaths in the past day, according to Johns Hopkins University data. Roughly 23 percent of the Japanese population has been fully vaccinated.
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