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Tokyo daily cases hit six-month high amid fears Olympics could become super spreader event

Three new positive COVID-19 cases have been detected amongst the thousands of people arriving in Tokyo for the Olympic Games.

The International Olympic Committee confirmed the news after the IOC President Thomas Bach met the Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga nine days before the opening ceremony.

Strict rules and restrictions have been placed on everyone flying into Japan for the games, which many locals believe should not be going ahead during the pandemic.

Tokyo is still under a state of emergency due to the virus and reported 1,149 new cases on Wednesday – the highest figure since late January.

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The IOC said organisers had screened over 8,000 international passengers since the start of July and three had tested positive and were immediately isolated.

Every passenger entering Japan needs to show a negative result certificate from a COVID test taken no more than 72 hours before departure.

Elsewhere, a cluster of coronavirus cases have been detected at a hotel near Tokyo where dozens of the Brazilian Olympic team are staying.

Seven hotel workers tested positive during screening but the 31 members of the Brazilian delegation, which includes judo athletes, are in a bubble inside the hotel separated from other guests.

Last month a Ugandan coach tested positive for the Delta variant on arrival at Tokyo airport. While they isolated the rest of their team were allowed to continue on to their training camp where an athlete tested positive.

Additionally, some 26 members in the Refugee team, who compete under the Olympic flag, have been forced to delay their arrival after one of their officials tested positive at a training camp in Qatar.

Mr Bach has said that Tokyo is “the best-prepared Olympic city ever” – but there are grave concerns that the Games will become a super spreader event despite the checks and restrictions that have been put in place.

“85% of the athletes and officials who will live in the Olympic Village, and almost 100% of the IOC Members and IOC staff, are either vaccinated or immune,” he said.

“These games will be followed by billions of people around the globe. They will admire what the Japanese people have achieved under these difficult circumstances.”

Last week organisers took the decision to scrap plans to allow venues to have 50% capacity crowds.

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Tokyo-based public health expert Professor Kenji Shibuya told Sky News: “The Olympics should be a symbol of unity and of peace and the prime minister has said it is a symbol of victory over the COVID pandemic – but unfortunately it is becoming the total opposite.”

Mr Shibuya confirmed that the country’s vaccination rate is still no higher than 20% of the population.

He added: “This Delta variant is already circulating particularly with young adults… it is getting serious, that’s why the government has declared a state of emergency to avoid the collapse of the health system.

“At the border they have implemented antigen tests which are not perfect… it will miss some of the cases.”

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