Tokyo Olympics could be an epicenter for new COVID-19 infections, says GlobalData

The Tokyo Olympics will likely be an epicenter of transmission for COVID-19 and could increase variant of concern (VOC) spread, bringing new cases to Japan and new cases back to home countries, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

According to GlobalData, there have been over 94 million new cases of COVID-19 in 2021 (as of June 18, 2021). This number represents nearly half of all reported COVID-19 cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Walter Gabriel, Epidemiologist at GlobalData, comments: “Japan is currently facing a difficult COVID-19 epidemiological transition. Between April 30 and May 18, 2021, the proportion of new COVID-19 infections from the delta VOC in Japan rose from 1.3% to 35%, and a majority of new infections are attributed to either the alpha or delta VOCs, according to GlobalData.”

While the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is aware of this issue, as evidenced by the release of the third and final COVID-19 playbooks in mid-June, the safety protocols may not be sufficient to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 despite ensuring that athletes do not have close contact with the public.

Gabriel continues: “The IOC’s playbook fails to consider how exposure occurs and which participants are at heightened risk. The third revision has not made significant changes to said misunderstanding. It could reduce the effectiveness of the measures currently in place as athletes share several enclosed spaces, and COVID-19 screening may detect cases hours to days after someone becomes infectious.”

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