Asia

Covid-19 resurgence and heatwave complicate Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games

TOKYO – The Olympics are set to flag off on Friday (July 23) with host city Tokyo under an emergency over the relentless spread of Covid-19 and as medical services are being stretched by a brutal heatwave.

Tokyo’s tally of 727 cases on Monday snapped a streak of five consecutive days of over 1,000 cases.

But week-on-week comparisons are a more reliable benchmark, as there are delays in case reporting while some clinics close on weekends and public holidays resulting in fewer tests.

Monday’s tally was a 45 per cent jump from the 502 infections last Monday. The seven-day average as of Monday stood at 1,100 cases, up from 757 cases in the prior seven-day period.

Tokyo’s neighbouring prefectures of Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba – which will also host Games events – have likewise registered a recent bump in cases.

Meanwhile, Tokyo 2020 organisers said on Monday that there have been 58 Covid-19 infections linked to the Games since July 1.

This has added to public anxieties, amid reports that the so-called “Olympic bubble” is not resolutely enforced with visiting officials, media and athletes reportedly breaking the guidelines.

Three media polls by the Asahi and Mainichi dailies and Kyodo News at the weekend all showed Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet approval rating plunging to new depths.

Just two in 10 believe in Mr Suga’s pledge that the Games will be “safe and secure”, the Asahi and Mainichi polls said. As many as 87 per cent told Kyodo News they were concerned by the Games’ organisation.

Adding to organisers’ woes is the heatwave that has engulfed Japan. The marathon was moved north to Sapporo in Hokkaido to escape Tokyo’s summer heat, but the mercury hit 35 deg C in Sapporo on Monday in the highest reading in 21 years.

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