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Tokyo Olympics: Osaka cancels torch race amid Covid-19 outbreak

The torchbearers of the Olympic relay will no longer be able to run on public roads as had been planned.

Governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said the rate of infection was currently “very fast” and the rate of infection “very high”, declaring a state of medical emergency in the region.

“The number of new daily cases has increased four times faster this week than before. The medical system is at a very severe level,” Yoshimura said at a press conference on Wednesday.

He also said the prefecture was discussing an alternative plan with the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee regarding holding the events at the Expo ’70 memorial park in the city of Suita without spectators.

Osaka Prefecture was scheduled to host the Tokyo Olympic Torch Relay on April 14. The Relay began its 121-day domestic journey in Tokyo on March 25 in Fukushima.

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Medical emergency

The Osaka prefectural government reported a record 878 new cases per day on Wednesday.

Yoshimura warned that nearly 70 percent of the area’s hospital beds were full and asked residents to refrain from non-essential outings.

Data shows that the most contagious variants of the coronavirus accounted for about half of infections since the end of March.

Osaka Prefecture’s first medical emergency due to the pandemic was declared on December 3 and lasted until the end of February.

Tokyo also reported 555 new cases on Wednesday – the highest figure since the second state of emergency was lifted on March 21.

The Games are currently scheduled for July 23 through August 8. The Paralympic Games will follow, from August 24 to September 5.


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