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Japan extends state of emergency in Tokyo

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Japan has again lengthened the state of emergency for the Olympic host city of Tokyo and extended the measure to other nearby prefectures due to a sharp rise in coronavirus infections, the government says.

Earlier, Olympics organisers registered 27 new coronavirus cases related to the Tokyo Games in their Friday report.

It is the highest daily increase of cases linked to the Games since organisers began reporting cases on July 1.

The Japanese government has extended the fourth state of emergency until August 31. The Paralympics start on August 24 and run until September 5.

Tokyo reported 3300 new infections within 24 hours on Friday, after the number had reached a peak of 3865 cases the day before.

The government has also declared a state of emergency for Tokyo’s neighbouring provinces of Saitama, Chiba and Kanagawa, as well as for the major city of Osaka.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, Japan has never imposed strict curfews as in other countries but the state of emergency entails various limits.

With infections picking up because of the more contagious Delta variant, the government keeps urging citizens to stay at home and watch the Olympic Games on television.

Fans are banned from stadiums and officials want to avoid people meeting elsewhere to watch the sport.

But critics say the Games and the successes of Japanese athletes mean many Japanese are no longer taking the coronavirus seriously.

The government and the International Olympic Committee, on the other hand, say the recent increase in infections has nothing to do with the Olympics.

But the 27 cases registered among Games participants on Friday is a record high. Thursday saw 24 cases reported with three athletes among those affected, including US pole vaulter Sam Kendricks.

The latest figures bring the total number of positive tests linked to the Olympics to 220.