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Athletes At Tokyo Olympics To Be Tested Daily For Coronavirus, Officials Say

Tokyo Games Delivery Officer Hidemasa Nakamura holds a sample of an updated version of the playbook during a news briefing on Wednesday.
Franck Robichon
Getty Images
Tokyo Games Delivery Officer Hidemasa Nakamura holds a sample of an updated version of the playbook during a news briefing on Wednesday.

The organizers of Japan's Summer Olympics, due to start just weeks from now, say they will administer daily coronavirus tests to athletes and will decide in June on what is a safe number of spectators.

At a virtual meeting on Wednesday, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach and representatives of the other organizers discussed measures to keep the coronavirus in check during the games, which begin July 23.

"The IOC is fully committed to the successful and safe delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020," Bach said in his opening remarks.

He said organizers will "strictly enforce" the restrictions, according to Kyodo News, which said that the revised rules are part of the newest version of the organizers' "playbook."

The games — already delayed by a year due to the pandemic — are set to go ahead despite reluctance among the Japanese public. Recent opinion polls have shown that more than half are not in favor of hosting the games this year.

Japan has had relatively few coronavirus infections to date — around 600,000, with around 10,000 deaths.

Even so, despite securing the largest number of doses of any country in Asia and having among the best health care systems in the world, Japan has struggled to vaccinate its 126 million people. It has one of the lowest vaccination rates among wealthy countries, with less than 2% of its population fully inoculated against COVID-19. That figure is far lower than the U.S. (29.1%) and also lags behind most of Asia.

By the end of the month, Japan will have imported 17 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, according to a schedule from the Cabinet Office that was cited by Reuters.

Tokyo on Wednesday confirmed 925 infections — its largest single-day figure since the end of January. Osaka, the country's third-most populous prefecture, reported 1,260 cases on Wednesday, Japan Times reports.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.
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