Fresh fears for Tokyo Olympics as host city sees surge in COVID infections

While Japan has fared better than many other countries – with 230,000 cases and just under 3,400 deaths – it is heading into the new year amid a surge in infections, with the host city at its centre.

On Wednesday Tokyo’s governor, Yuriko Koike, warned that the capital could face an “explosion” of cases and urged people to “put life before fun” and stay home over the new year holidays. Only 24 hours later, Koike told the Kyodo news agency that Tokyo had 1,300 new infections, beating the previous one-day high of 949 from last Saturday.

Even if, as Bach believes, it will be possible to admit a “reasonable” number of visitors, health experts have pointed to the logistics of testing and tracking, as well as the potential for additional pressure on Tokyo’s already overstretched medical infrastructure.