Covid Surges in Japan amid Tokyo Olympics 2020, Many see Indirect Olympic link

As the Olympics game have entered its final days, Japan is witnessing a drastic increase in coronavirus cases. According to an estimate presented at a Tokyo Metropolitan government pandemic monitoring committee meeting on Aug. 5, Japan’s capital will see over 10,000 new COVID-19 cases a day by Aug. 18 if infections in Tokyo continue increasing at their current pace.

Tokyo Gov. Yuriko Koike attends a meeting of the metropolitan government’s coronavirus pandemic monitoring committee at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government headquarters on Aug. 5, 2021. (Mainichi/Hitomi Saikawa)

Japan decided on Thursday to expand its COVID-19 emergency curbs to cover more than 70% of the population, as a record surge in cases strained hospitals in the Olympics host city Tokyo and other parts of the country.

“The situation on the ground (at hospitals) is extremely severe,” Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura told a panel of experts before the Japan’s Prime Minister formal announcement. He said serious cases had doubled in the past two weeks.

“This sudden increase in cases — if this is to continue there is ample risk of a medical collapse,” says Yuji Kuroiwa, the governor of Tokyo’s neighbouring Kanagawa prefecture.

Though many see the ongoing Olympics as the main reason behind the sharp increase in coronavirus cases, many top Japanese medical experts are not certainly in favour of this assessment. “I don’t think that the infections [of Olympics-related personnel] are directly related to the rapid spread of infections at all. But I think the fact the Olympics are being held has impacted people’s awareness,” Shigeru Omi, the government’s top medical advisor, told lawmakers this week.

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