The same day as the opening ceremony of the Olympics unfolded, Tokyo Games organizers announced Friday that 19 more coronavirus cases had been discovered among people connected to the competition, including three athletes.
The latest string of positive cases is a single-day high, and the newest batch of positives brings the total number of people connected to the Games impacted to 106.
Included in the 19 people who were announced Friday are three athletes and three residents in the Olympic Village. Four are Japanese residents while the other 15 are from elsewhere. The 19 include three contracts, three members of the media and 10 “Games-concerned personnel,” according to organizers.
The coronavirus has impacted several American athletes. Tennis phenom Coco Gauff, Seattle Storm forward Katie Lou Samuelson and Washington Wizards guard Bradley Beal pulled out of the Games due to positive tests. Kara Eaker, an alternate on the U.S. women’s gymnastics team, tested positive. Beach volleyball player Taylor Crabb also tested positive, ending his Olympic run.
The first positive cases for athletes living within the Olympic Village were announced Sunday. When there are positive cases, those individuals are sent into isolation. But there’s growing concern about the ability to keep a bubble-like environment for the Olympic Village.
“As much as the IOC says they have a bubble going, that isn’t happening,” said Dr. Lisa Brosseau, a research consultant at the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy within the University of Minnesota. “You can’t make a bubble over the Olympic Village. That just isn’t possible. Bubbles have to be much smaller than that.”
A day earlier, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach said there was “zero risk” of athletes infecting anyone outside of the Olympic Village, which is sealed from the public. The public perception of the Olympics among the Japanese populace is negative, though, with many polls showing 60% to 80% disapproval regarding the Olympics continuing despite rising coronavirus numbers.
While the Games grapple with rising caseloads, Tokyo and Japan as a whole are seeing increases, too. Tokyo saw 1,979 new cases of the coronavirus on Thursday, the highest total in six months. And The New York Times reported that Japan experienced 5,300 new cases Thursday, which is the largest total in two months.
Tokyo remains in a state of emergency that will last the duration of the Olympics.