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Tokyo records highest-ever tally of COVID-19 cases four days into Olympics

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Four days after the Summer Olympics opening ceremony, Tokyo recorded its highest single-day total of COVID-19 cases. 

Per the Associated Press, Tokyo recorded 2,848 new COVID-19 cases on Tuesday. The previous high for a single day was 2,520 cases on January 7. The news arrives amid fears that the Olympics will turn into a superspreader event in a country struggling to contain a COVID-19 outbreak. 

The Games started in earnest with Friday's opening ceremony amid protest and a Japanese populace largely opposed to hosting the Olympics. A nationwide survey released on May 17 showed 83% of respondents supported canceling or further postponing the Games. The Games started under a national state of emergency as the country banned fans from attending events because of the state of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tokyo 2020 Olympics - Beach Volleyball - Men - Pool B - Czech Republic (Perusic/Schweiner) v Latvia (Plavins/Tocs) - Shiokaze Park, Tokyo, Japan - July 26, 2021. General view inside the stadium, as the match was cancelled due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in their match. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
The first beach volleyball match of the Olympics was canceled Friday after an athlete tested positive for COVID-19. (REUTERS/Pilar Olivares)

The Olympics arrived in Japan as the nation lagged the developed world in vaccinating its population. As of Tuesday, 25.7% of its population had been fully vaccinated, according to Johns Hopkins data. The number marks a vast increase from a 3% nationwide vaccination rate reported as recently as early June. But the rate still lags other developed nations and put Tokyo in a precarious position as it prepared to host a global event. 

“If Japan had rolled out COVID vaccines a few months earlier, it would have been possible to suppress the transmission and hold the Olympics with spectators,” Kenji Shibuya, a former World Health Organization member now in charge of overseeing vaccinations in Soma, Japan told Yahoo Sports earlier in July. “But it is now in a state of emergency with low vaccine coverage in the middle of delta resurgence.”

According to AP, authorities plan to ask hospitals to increase capacity as Tokyo's 3,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients are filling up beds.

A poll released Sunday showed that approval of Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga’s Cabinet had sunk to 34% amid the Olympics controversy. 

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