Japan has decided to halt a public display of the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic torches as new virus cases jump in the country and Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga ordered a state of emergency for Tokyo and the surrounding areas until next month.
Tokyo reported 2,447 new cases on Thursday. This is a jump of 850 cases — just over 50% — from the day before. Tokyo was reporting just a few hundred new cases a few months ago.
The rapid spread of the virus in Japan is imperiling plans for the postponed Tokyo Olympics, which are to open on July 23. The Paralympics begin on Aug. 24.
The Olympics were postponed nine months ago because of the pandemic. A poll last month by Japanese broadcaster NHK showed 63% of 1,200 Japanese surveyed think the Games should be postponed again — or cancelled.
Japan has attributed about 3,500 deaths to COVID-19, a moderate success rates in controlling the virus for a country of 125 million.
The Switzerland-base International Olympic Committee and local organizers have said the Games will not be postponed again and will be cancelled if they cannot be held this time.
Japan has invested at least $25 billion in preparing the Olympics, and the IOC depends on selling broadcast rights for almost three-quarters of its income.
The Olympics and Paralympics could involve more that 15,000 athletes entering Japan from 205 nations and territories, plus tens of thousands of officials, judges, administrators, VIPS, sponsors, media and broadcasters.