Tokyo-2020 organizers defended their coronavirus prevention strategy on Thursday after 24 new positive cases associated with the Games were registered, the highest daily number so far. At least 193 athletes, journalists, employees and contractors at the event tested positive for covid-19, according to data from Tokyo-2020, which does not include some cases recorded at airports and training centers.
On Wednesday, Japan reported 9,583 cases nationwide, breaking the 9,000 barrier for the first time and a record high in Tokyo. International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesman Mark Adams noted that there is no evidence of a link between the hosting of the Games and the rise in contagion.
“As far as I know, there is not a single case of contagion of the Tokyo population by athletes or the Olympic movement,” Adams told the press. “We have the most tested community (for covid-19) from probably anywhere… in the world, in addition to having some of the strictest restrictions in Vila dos Athletes,” he said.
Organizers also insisted the Games are not putting further pressure on the Japanese medical system, as some experts warn that the spread of the pandemic could lead to a health crisis. Only two people linked to the Games are hospitalized, according to Olympic authorities, and half of those who needed care are receiving it from their own medical teams.
“Of the 310,000 detection tests, the positive rate is 0.02%,” said Adams. Of the people connected to the Games that had a positive result, 109 are residents in Japan and the rest are from abroad.
concern in japan
The cases recorded at the Games occur against a background of growing concern in Tokyo and other areas of Japan about the rapid increase in contagion, driven by the more contagious Delta variant. Tokyo is already in a state of emergency due to the virus, which reduces the opening hours of restaurants and bars and prohibits the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Three regions neighboring the capital are expected to impose similar measures. Experts warned that the restrictions did not seem to be working and urged the population not to let down their guard.
“The current situation is worse than ever,” warned a senior government adviser against the virus, according to the national NHK network. Shigeru Omi, a former senior WHO official, said that, given the government and Olympic authorities’ decision to host the Games, “it is their responsibility to do everything possible (…) to prevent infections and the collapse of medical services” .
In Japan, there has been a comparatively small outbreak of the virus, with around 15,000 deaths, without the most severe measures being applied, and with only a quarter of the population fully vaccinated. The Olympic Games are taking place in unprecedented conditions, without the presence of fans in the stands and with periodic examinations of athletes and others involved.