08/18/2021, 15.29
JAPAN
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COVID-19 cases tripled during the Tokyo Olympics

Health experts deny a direct link with the Olympic Games, but the country reported 20,000 new cases yesterday alone. In mid-July, the number stood at 2,000 per day. Olympic staff brought variants to Japan. Emergency measures have been extended. The Japanese F1 Grand Prix has been cancelled, but the Paralympics will open next week without spectators.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – As the Olympic Games recede into history, the world’s attention has moved away from Japan while the number of COVID-19 cases have begun to noticeably rise.

Yesterday the country reported nearly 20,000 new daily cases, up from around 2,000 in mid-July. The increase is due to variants, which arrived in the country with Olympic staff.

As a result, the state of emergency has been extended in Tokyo and five other prefectures until 12 September and imposed on seven other areas.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday stated that the country is seeing an "unprecedented" rise in infections due to the spread of the Delta variant.

In view of the situation, Mr Suga urged companies to let their employees work from home to reduce urban commuting.

For their part, health experts deny a link with the Olympics; however, infections have tripled during the Games and new coronavirus strains have reached the country over the two-week sporting event.

Japan’s first Lambda variant case concerns a Peruvian woman who travelled Tokyo for the Olympics. Upon landing at Haneda airport on 20 July, she immediately tested positive.

Health experts reported that it was the same coronavirus strain that spread across South America in only three months. Currently, 80 per cent of new cases of COVID-19 in Peru are due to the Lambda variant.

Meanwhile, the Japanese Grand Prix, set to take place in Suzuka on 10 October, was cancelled today.

“The decision has been taken by the Japanese government to cancel the race this season due to ongoing complexities of the pandemic in the country,” F1 said in a statement.

“Formula 1 is now working on the details of the revised calendar and will announce the final details in the coming weeks.”

Conversely, the Paralympics will begin on 24 August until 5 September as scheduled, but without spectators.

The government made the decision on Monday after a meeting of the four agencies involved in the event: the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee, Tokyo Prefecture and the Japanese government.

"We very much regret that this situation has impacted the Paralympic Games, following the Olympic Games,” reads a joint statement.

In light of this, “we sincerely apologize to all ticket buyers who were looking forward to watching the Games at the venues.

“We hope that you understand that these measures are unavoidable and being implemented in order to prevent the spread of infection. Everyone is encouraged to watch the Games at home.”

Finally, "in the event of any major changes in the infection situation,” anther four-party meeting will be held to decide what to do.

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