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Suga rejects view that Olympics triggered COVID-19 resurgence 

All national dailies reported that during a press conference on Friday evening, Prime Minister Suga dismissed the view that the ongoing Tokyo Olympics aided the spread of the novel coronavirus in the nation’s capital. “I don’t think the Games are the cause,” he was quoted as saying. “The fact is that people’s mobility is declining” thanks to teleworking and restrictions on traffic such as increased tolls for the Tokyo Metropolitan Expressway.  

 Tokyo Governor Koike also reportedly denied the link between the Games and the spike in infection, telling the press on Friday that more people have chosen to stay home to watch the Olympics on TV. She said only a very small number of people have actually visited the event venues. 

In meeting the press on Sunday, CEO Muto of the Olympic organizing committee said he shared with prime minister and the governor that there is no link between the Games and the surge in infections. Pointing out that only one foreigner with Olympic credentials has been admitted to the hospital due to COVID-19, the official said the Games have not burdened the local healthcare system.    

However, public health professionals have dismissed the prime minister’s assertion that the Olympics were not responsible for the arrival of the fifth wave, saying that many people have let down their guard since the start of the Olympics. “The Games have impacted on people’s psyches in multiple ways,” said an unnamed epidemiologist on the coronavirus taskforce. “More people have stopped cooperating with infection prevention protocols” as they are “tired of the pandemic” and feel “ambivalent” about the Olympics.  

In a related story, Saturday’s Nikkei wrote that in light of the fact that almost 260 Olympic stakeholders have tested positive for the coronavirus since July 1, the foreign media have voiced doubts about the efficacy of the “Olympic bubble.” As half of those who tested positive were reportedly local contract workers with access to event venues and the Athletes’ Village, the daily conjectured that the chances are high that the virus will infiltrate the bubble amid the ongoing resurgence in the nation’s capital. The daily wrote that as the local healthcare system is coming under increasing strain due to the spike in new cases, calls may grow for the organizing committee to reduce the number of doctors and nurses dispatched to the village and event venues so that they can treat COVID-19 patients in their own hospitals.   

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