With more than 1800 corona infections in the Tokyo region one day, Japans fifth corona wave seems to be a fact. Its the highest day total since January. Tokyo is all the state of emergency, which includes no alcohol being donated in the evening and karaoke establishments should remain closed.
Organizing the Olympics only makes the current situation more uncertain, warns Naoto Ueyama, the head of the Japanese doctor federation. “If the number of infections goes through this way, we will see a growth we havent experienced before,” says Ueyama. “Im worried that more people will die without medical care as the number of infections increases.”
Less than a quarter of Japanese are fully vaccinated.
Ueyama says there are two causes for the rise. “The first is that the contagiousness of the variants is extremely high. Also, the measures will not work well by holding the Olympics, because the number of people going outside does not fall. And these two causes are coming together more and more.”
Almost half of the number of infections in Japan is with the delta variant.
Fourteen days in a bubble
While most Olympic sports are not an audience, tens of thousands of people from all over the world have come to Japan for the event. Not only the athletes, also accompanying staff, media and entrepreneurs.
The Japanese government is committed to preventing the Japanese from coming into contact with foreign visitors, including by placing visitors in their own bubble. They are only allowed to arrive in a limited number of places in Japan, including the official Olympic venues.
Only after 14 days in Tokyo and after several corona-virus tests, foreign visitors can move freely around the city. But even then the advice remains to be reluctant in contact with the locals.
In practice, it turns out to be tricky. Visitors find ways to take the streets anyway. While every hotel has a security guard that keeps an eye on whos walking outside, that system is not waterproof.
Visitors should report it on a list when they go outside and get 15 minutes. Anyone who just walks through will not be addressed. And what the consequence is when you report after that fifteen minutes is unclear.
Japanese media make stories about visitors who are going on the road in the city:
meantime, 67 visitors to the Games have tested positive for the coronavirus. Among them are athletes such as Dutch skateboard star Candy Jacobs, a Chilean taekwondo athlete and an American beach volleyball player.
After a positive test, another test will follow to check if it is not a false positive test result. How athletes and other visitors got infected is unclear. They have been extensively tested before departure to Japan, on arrival and in the days after arrival.
The organization of the Olympics says the bubble works and that the positive cases out there are now are less than expected. Brian McCloskey is responsible for corona controls at the International Olympic Committee. “Were doing all these tests to filter people out,” he says. “What were seeing now is what we expected. The number of infections is low.”
Meanwhile, Japanese are worried. According to a survey by the Japanese newspaper Asahi, 68 percent of the surveyed doubt whether the Games can control the number of infections. 21 percent think the Games can be kept safe.