By SHUHEI NOMURA/ Staff Writer
August 1, 2021 at 18:15 JST
The head of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics organizing committee on Aug. 1 dismissed suggestions of a link between hosting the Summer Games and a record number of fresh COVID-19 cases in the capital, citing the views of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.
Tokyo logged a record 4,058 new daily cases the day before, topping 4,000 for the first time for a single day and adding 2,930 new cases from a week ago.
This week's infection trajectory is alarming. The number of newly confirmed infections surpassed 3,000 for the first time on July 28 to hit 3,177 cases. Then came the record July 31 tally, fueling fears the Olympics might be exacerbating the infection situation in the Tokyo metropolitan area.
But at an Aug. 1 news conference, Toshiro Muto said: “I hear that the prime minister is denying there is any association between the Olympics (and the sharp uptick in new cases in the capital). I also understand that Governor Koike is denying there is any rise in people’s movements as a result of the Olympics. I share their views.”
Pressed further about his own assessment of a possible link between the Olympics and the infection trajectory in Tokyo as the senior official of the organizing committee, Muto said he is not in a position to make that call.
“I am staying in line with the view of the prime minister, who is representing the country, and the Tokyo governor, who is representing the host city,” he said. “Tokyo organizers are respecting the views of the two officials who are better positioned than anybody else about making such an assessment.”
Christophe Dubi, the IOC's Olympic Games executive director, also adopted the same stance as Muto.
Muto expressed confidence that the Tokyo organizers have helped to contain the spread of COVID-19 among Olympians and officials to date.
“Only one overseas official was hospitalized until the halfway point of the Olympics” following the Opening Ceremony held July 23, Muto said, citing his reasons.
He also said the rate of positive testing for the novel coronavirus remained low among athletes and officials and that about 30,000 tests are performed daily.
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