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Olympic host Tokyo seeks more beds as COVID-19 cases to hit daily record

Olympic host city Tokyo has asked hospitals to prepare more beds for COVID-19 patients, as the number of cases in the Japanese capital is on track to hit an all-time high of more than 3,000 cases, Japanese media reported today (Tuesday).

Japanese Olympics organizers report many coronavirus cases, every day, including many infections among athletes, as the spectator-free Tokyo games continued under tight restrictions.

The Japanese government and organizers have tried to overcome public unease over the games by pledging to make them “safe and secure.” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga met on Sunday to discuss the situation and agreed the Games were going “very smoothly,” Kyodo News reported.

A poll published by the Nikkei newspaper on Monday found that 37% of respondents said the decision to hold the event without spectators was appropriate, while 28% said some spectators or full crowds should have been allowed. A further 31% said the event should have been postponed again or canceled outright. 

Many residents of Japan had opposed the staging of the games amid the pandemic, fearing that the arrival of tens of thousands of athletes and others from around the world could make for a superspreader event. While Monday marks the fifth straight day of infections in double figures, with a record 19 reported on Friday, the total so far is relatively small as a percentage of the number of attendees. Just 0.02% of tests in the three days to Sunday returned a positive result. 

Nevertheless, some experts remain uneasy about the effect of the games on the spread of the virus as the more infectious delta variant becomes more dominant.