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Four days after the Summer Olympics opening ceremony, Tokyo recorded its highest single-day total of COVID-19 cases.
Per the Associated Press, Tokyo recorded 2,848 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The previous high for a single day was 2,520 cases on January 7. The news arrives amid fears that the Olympics will turn into a superspreader event in a country struggling to contain a COVID-19 outbreak.
The Games started in earnest with Friday's opening ceremony amid protest and a Japanese populace largely opposed to hosting the Olympics. A nationwide survey released on May 17 showed 83% of respondents supported canceling or further postponing the Games. The Games started under a national state of emergency as the country banned fans from attending events because of the state of the coronavirus pandemic.
The Olympics arrived in Japan as the nation lagged the developed world in vaccinating its population. As of Tuesday, 25.7% of its population had been fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins data. The number marks a vast increase from a 3% nationwide vaccination rate reported as recently as early June. But the rate still lags other developed nations and put Tokyo in a precarious position as it prepared to host a global event.
“If Japan had rolled out COVID vaccines a few months earlier, it would have been possible to suppress the transmission and hold the Olympics with spectators,” Kenji Shibuya, a former World Health Organization member now in charge of overseeing vaccinations in Soma, Japan told Yahoo Sports earlier in July. “But it is now in a state of emergency with low vaccine coverage in the middle of delta resurgence.”
According to AP, authorities plan to ask hospitals to increase capacity as Tokyo's 3,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients are filling up beds.
A poll released Sunday showed that approval of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet had sunk to 34% amid the Olympics controversy.
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