Concerns regarding the COVID-19 pandemic in Tokyo, Japan continue to grow as the start of the 2021 Summer Olympic Games begin. For the first time in six months, the nation's capital recorded nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in 24 hours. Throughout the pandemic, Japan has reportedly endured 853,000 COVID-19 cases and 15,100 COVID-19 related deaths. Tragically, most of these new cases and deaths have occurred within the last seven months. Making matters worse, less than a quarter of the nation's population has been fully vaccinated against the virus.
Despite the uptick in COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has remained committed to hosting the Tokyo Olympics. With that said, he has instituted a state of emergency that is expected to last through August 22. Emergency measures include a ban on alcohol sales, shorter hours for restaurants and much more.
Suga has faced pushback from Toshiro Muto, the head of the 2021 Summer Olympics Organizing Committee, in recent weeks. During a recent press conference, Muto said that he would rule out a last-minute cancellation of the Tokyo Olympics.
"We can't predict what will happen with the number of coronavirus cases. So we will continue discussions if there is a spike in cases," Muto said.
"We have agreed that based on the coronavirus situation, we will convene five-party talks again. At this point, the coronavirus cases may rise or fall, so we will think about what we should do when the situation arises."
Muto may be entering the 11th hour of his decision-making process. Olympic women's soccer and softball have already started pool play while other athletes have settled into the Olympic Village. If the Tokyo Olympics are going to be canceled, Muto and his colleagues would have to make that decision for the opening ceremony takes place on July 23.