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Japan confirms 1st case of COVID linked to Olympic torch relay as uptick in infections prompts new state of emergency

Torch relay kicks off 2021 Japan Olympics
Torch relay kicks off 2021 Japan Olympics 01:41

Tokyo — Tokyo Olympics organizers said Thursday that a policeman tested positive for COVID-19 a day after his assignment last week at the Olympic torch relay. It is the first positive test connected to the relay since it began March 25 from northeastern Fukushima prefecture.
 
Organizers say the policeman, who is in his 30s, was assigned to control traffic on the April 17 leg in southwestern Kagawa prefecture. They said the officer developed symptoms and tested positive the next day. Local health authorities are investigating.

A Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay participant runs on a beach in Mitoyo in Kagawa Prefecture, western Japan
A Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay participant runs on a beach in Mitoyo in Kagawa Prefecture, western Japan, April 18, 2021, in a photo released by Kyodo. Kyodo/REUTERS

Officials say the policeman was wearing a mask and taking social-distancing precautions and other measures.

Another COVID emergency

The report comes as Japan is preparing to declare a third state of emergency in western metropolitan areas around Osaka and in Tokyo. It is expected on Friday and is being re-instated after current measures failed to slow the latest resurgence fueled by a new, more contagious variant of the virus detected earlier in Britain.
 
Japan had 541,496 cases and 9,710 deaths as of Tuesday. These results are good by global standards but poor in Asia. Without compulsory lockdowns, people in Japan have become less cooperative with preventive measures.
 
The Olympic organizers said all participants and officials were taking the necessary precautions and that the single case along the torch route would not affect the subsequent legs of the relay.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay
Yoshihide Muroya, Japanese aerobatics pilot and race pilot of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship, carries the Olympic torch at Hibarigahara Festival Site, during the last leg of the first day of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic torch relay, in Minamisoma, Fukushima Prefecture, Japan, March 25, 2021. ISSEI KATO/REUTERS

The torch relay involves 10,000 runners crisscrossing Japan for four months, ending with its arrival at the National Stadium on July 23 to kick off the scheduled opening ceremony.

The Tokyo Games organizers and Japan's government have forged ahead to hold what they insist will be a safe Olympics in the face of considerable opposition from the Japanese public

As CBS News' Lucy Craft has reported, Japan's coronavirus vaccine rollout has been notably slow, and most of the country is likely to be still waiting for inoculations when 15,000 athletes arrive from all corners of the world this summer.

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