Tokyo new virus cases near 2,000 a day before Olympics open

Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee Chief, Doesn't Rule Out Canceling Olympics.Tokyo 2020 Organizing Committee Chief, Doesn't Rule Out Canceling Olympics.Toshiro Muto made the comments on July 20, as athletes continue to test positive for COVID-19 ... .... and important corporate sponsors announce they will be absent from the opening ceremony.We can’t predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases, Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 Organizing CommitteeChief, via CNBC.More contagious variants of the coronavirus have led to spikes in COVID-19 cases all over the world.Tokyo accounted for 1,387 new cases of COVID-19 on Tuesday.We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. , Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 Organizing CommitteeChief, via CNBC.At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises, Toshiro Muto, Tokyo 2020 Organizing CommitteeChief, via CNBC.Muto's comments come on the cusp of the opening ceremony, scheduled for Friday, July 23.Local popular support for the Olympic Games has plummeted, .with a recent poll showing that 55 percent of respondents did not approve of the Games being held. .The same poll revealed that 68 percent doubted that COVID-19 infections could be controlled by organizers

TOKYO — Tokyo hit another six-month high in new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, one day before the Olympics begin, as worries grow of a worsening of infections during the Games.

Thursday’s 1,979 new cases are the highest since 2,044 were recorded on Jan. 15.

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Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is determined to hold the Olympics, placed Tokyo under a state of emergency on July 12, but daily cases have sharply increased since then.

The emergency measures, which largely involve a ban on alcohol sales and shorter hours for restaurants and bars, are to last until Aug. 22, after the Olympics end on Aug. 8.

Japan has reported about 853,000 cases and 15,100 deaths since the pandemic began, most of them this year. Still, the number of cases and deaths as a share of the population are much lower than in many other countries.

The Olympics, delayed for a year by the pandemic, begin Friday. Spectators are banned from all venues in the Tokyo area, with limited audiences allowed at a few outlying sites.

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Suga’s government has been criticized for what some say is prioritizing the Olympics over the nation’s health. His public support ratings have fallen to around 30% in recent media surveys, and there has been little festivity ahead of the Games. On Thursday, the director of the opening ceremony, Kentaro Kobayashi, was dismissed over a past Holocaust joke.

In Olympics-related diplomacy, Suga is to meet with U.S. first lady Jill Biden on Thursday and have dinner at the state guest house. Earlier in the day, he was visited by World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Also Thursday, Emperor Naruhito received a courtesy visit from International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach at the Imperial Palace.

Experts say virus infections among unvaccinated people younger than age 50 are rising sharply.

Japan’s vaccinations began late and slowly, but the pace picked up in May as the government pushed to accelerate the drive before the Olympics, though the pace has since slowed due to a shortage of imported vaccines.

About 23% of Japanese are fully vaccinated, way short of the level believed necessary to have any meaningful effect on reducing the risk in the general population.

Experts warned on Wednesday that infections in Tokyo are likely to continue to worsen in coming weeks.