Tokyo 2020 president Seiko Hashimoto, left, and Tokyo Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa attend the local municipalities working group meeting in Tokyo, Thursday, July 8, 2021. (Behrouz Mehri/Pool Photo via AP)

COVID Cases Keep Rising Ahead of Tokyo Olympics

We’re now a week out from finally seeing the “2020” Tokyo Olympics commence. However, COVID-19 continues to curse this event as cases jump in Japan.

Toward the end of June, daily case numbers fell to its lowest points since the end of February, following a previous wave. June 21 even has a case total of below 900. Signs pointed to an improvement of the COVID situation in the country. Now, with vaccination rates running behind, cases rise again.

On July 14, 3,211 cases were reported, per Johns Hopkins University. Per AP, Tokyo reported 1,149 cases the same day–the highest total in six months.

Are the Olympics Safe?


Reports show that by the time the Olympics start, 85% of athletes and officials living in the Olympic Village should be vaccinated. The International Olympic Committee told the Associated Press between 70-80% of international medical representatives will be vaccinated, along with “almost 100%” of IOC members and staff will be “vaccinated or immune.”

So, in theory, those competing in the Olympics should be good to go.

But, then there’s the Japanese public, which, obviously, Japan is more concerned about. The country’s population is still below 20% fully vaccinated–a drastically low number. The number has tripled in the last month. This is a good sign, but it won’t create a safer in environment for the public in time for the Tokyo Olympics.

With the Delta variant spreading fast, the hope is the Olympics don’t make it worse. With proper protocols, it’s possible that is the case. It was done in the NBA and NHL bubbles. But endeavors were much smaller in comparison.

Due to COVID-19, all spectators have been banned from the Olympics. The passing of the Olympic torch will no longer be a public event as well to prevent crowd gatherings. Regardless of the restrictions and number of cases, the opening ceremony will take place Friday, July 23.

Let the games begin.

About Harrison Smajovits

Harrison is a sports coordinator at ESPN 98.1 FM/850 AM WRUF. He served as a beat writer for Florida Gators football for the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He also contributes to WRUF's Gainesville Sports Center segments and makes appearances on the Clash on Harp on Sports. Harrison has been a content writer for WRUF since January 2019 as well.

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