Tokyo sees rise in COVID-19 cases one month before Olympics

(Photo: World Triathlon)

With less than a month to go until the Olympics, it appears that a fifth wave of COVID-19 infections is about to hit Tokyo. The weekly numbers have risen for the ninth week in a row. Last Monday, 317 cases were reported, that was 81 more than the previous week.

There is proof that it’s the very contagious Delta variant that is now spreading rapidly. If the infection rate doesn’t drop soon, chances are that Tokyo will have to go into a State of Emergency right around Jul. 23, when the Olympics kick off. Yosotushi Nishimura, Japan’s minister in charge of handling the pandemic in the country, said they won’t hesitate to call for another State of Emergency. “The number of new infections in the capital and other areas in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area is clearly trending upward,” he told local news channel NHK.

According to John Coates, a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the Games will go ahead, even if Tokyo is in a state of emergency. “All the measures we are undertaking will ensure a safe Games regardless of whether there is a State of Emergency or not,” he said in a meeting with organizers. “Provided that we can protect the Japanese public, the most important thing is giving athletes a chance to compete.”

A few months ago a survey indicated that most Japanese would prefer not to host the Olympics in their country this year. Japan has so far been able to prevent a big outbreak of the coronavirus, but since only few people have been vaccinated, and because the government hasn’t put strict restrictions in place, the coronavirus keeps hitting every time that measures are lifted. Two weeks ago, Japan decided to open up after a period of semi-lockdown. Many people thought this was too soon.