Olympics Covid Cases Hit 71 as Opening Ceremony Nears
Japan’s Olympics organizers reported a record number of new daily coronavirus infections linked to the Games, including three athletes, bringing the total to 110 just hours before the opening ceremony is scheduled to start in a nearly empty stadium in Tokyo.
Nineteen new COVID-19 cases connected to the event were reported on Friday, the highest daily figure since organizers started disclosing the data this month. One of the infected athletes is residing in the Olympic Village.
A COVID-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test collection area at the main press center for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games at Tokyo Big Sight in Tokyo, Japan, on Thursday, July 22, 2021. The Tokyo Olympics faced the latest in a series of PR disasters when they were forced to fire the director of the opening ceremony a day before it takes place.
The Games, which will be the first to be held without spectators, have triggered fierce public opposition in Japan, where vaccination rates lag other developed countries. Tokyo is grappling with a surge in coronavirus cases, which prompted the government to declare a fourth state of emergency in the capital earlier this month.
Tokyo reported 1,359 new daily infections on Friday, surpassing 1,000 for the fourth consecutive day. Serious cases climbed to 68 from 65 on Thursday.
While the total amount of cases linked to the Games is small compared with the number of athletes and staff involved -- tens of thousands of people are expected to travel to the Olympics -- they may add to concern that the event could trigger more infections and introduce variants.
Earlier this month, U.S. tennis star Coco Gauff withdrew from the Games because she contracted COVID-19, and two South African footballers tested positive at the athletes’ village. Toyota Motor Corp. has said it won’t air television advertisements in Japan during the Olympics and its president won’t attend the opening ceremony as concerns about holding the Games amid the pandemic mount.