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Tokyo Olympics sees 24 more COVID cases, highest in 24-hour span

Austria's Sepp Straka, center, makes a putt on the 16th hole during the first round of the men's golf event at the Summer Olympics on July 28, 2021, at the Kasumigaseki Country Club in Kawagoe, Japan. (AP Photo/Matt York)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- The Tokyo Olympic organizing committee on Thursday reported 24 more COVID-19 cases associated with the games, the highest daily count since infections began being compiled from the start of this month.

    The 24 cases, bringing the cumulative total to 193, include three athletes from overseas in Tokyo for the Olympics, which opened last Friday following an unprecedented one-year postponement due to the coronavirus pandemic. The committee said the three were all staying in the athletes' village.

    Two people from overseas involved with the Olympics have been hospitalized so far, neither in serious condition, organizing committee spokesman Masanori Takaya said.

    The daily figures were announced a day after COVID-19 cases in both Japan and Tokyo, which is hosting the games while under a state of emergency, hit all-time highs of 9,583 and 3,177, respectively.

    International Olympic Committee spokesman Mark Adams stressed that athletes and staff are tested frequently and living under strict quarantine measures, making it highly improbable that the games could become a source of infections spreading to the wider population.

    "They really are living in a different parallel world to all intents and purposes," he told a press briefing.

    Health experts are warning that the surge in COVID-19 cases is putting an increasing strain on the medical system, with the government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga considering expanding the state of emergency to three prefectures surrounding Tokyo.

    The medical and scientific director of the organizing committee, Richard Budgett, said the games are equipped to deal with infections among its ranks and would not pose a burden to local hospitals.

    "Obviously it's challenging for any country when there's rising cases of COVID-19, but I am confident that the Olympics are being run without actually affecting that essential secondary care and hospital provision."

    The numbers issued by the organizing committee do not include those announced by Japanese central and local governments. The 24 cases also include 15 contractors and six games-linked officials.

    Of the 24, 17 were residents of Japan, it said, adding 39,209 people from overseas had entered Japan for the games as of Tuesday.

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