A focus of coronavirus in a hotel of the Japan where dozens of members of Olympic delegation from Brazil are staying at home raises new concerns about infections during what the world’s top Olympic authority promised on Wednesday will be “historic” Games.
Just over a week before the opening ceremony, new cases linked to the Games and infections on the rise in Tokyo underscore the risks of hosting the biggest sporting event on the planet during a pandemic, even without spectators at the competition venues.
Seven employees at the hotel in the city of Hamamatsu, located southwest of Tokyo, have been diagnosed with coronaviruses, a city official said.
But the 31-member Brazilian delegation, which includes judo athletes, is in a “bubble” at the hotel, separate from the other guests, and has not been infected.
Tokyo, the host city where a state of emergency was imposed until after the Olympics ended on Aug. 8, also registered 1,149 new Covid-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest number in nearly six months.
Highly contagious variants of the virus fuel the latest wave of infections, and the inability to vaccinate people faster leaves the population vulnerable.
Medical experts fear that Olympic “bubbles” imposed by Tokyo 2020 officials in an attempt to oust Covid-19 may not be fully isolated, as the movement of officials providing services at the Games could create opportunities for contagion.
The Olympics, delayed last year because the virus was spreading around the world, is losing a lot of public support in Japan because of fears it will trigger a spike in infections.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach commended the organizers and the Japanese people for hosting the Games during a pandemic.
“These will be historic Games … for the way the Japanese people have overcome so many challenges in the past two years, the great earthquake in eastern Japan and now the coronavirus pandemic,” Bach told reporters after meeting the prime minister Yoshihide Sucks.
Japanese leaders had hoped that the Games rescheduled for this year would be a celebration of the world’s victory over the coronavirus, but new outbreaks of infections have postponed those celebrations.
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