Tokyo infection numbers could be ‘largely unaffected by Games’

Novel coronavirus infection numbers in Tokyo are projected to be largely unaffected by the Tokyo Olympics if the state of emergency is not completely lifted and certain restrictions are continued, an estimate recently compiled by a University of Tsukuba professor showed.

The estimate by Prof. Setsuya Kurahashi, who specializes in artificial intelligence, assumes there will be a new flow of 340,000 people per day during the Tokyo Games, including officials and spectators from Japan and abroad.

The professor estimated the number of new infections using AI and other methods under the assumption the inoculation rate will increase by 0.8% of the population per day and assuming the British (Alpha) variant will spread.

The estimate showed new infections would reach a maximum of 1,659 per day in early August if the state of emergency were to be lifted on Sunday, as scheduled, and the Games were to be held. The figure is about 6% higher than the 1,566 per day, an estimate given in the case the Olympics were cancelled or postponed.

New infections are estimated to be unaffected by the Games if the government continues to impose regulations as strict as the state of emergency declared in January, which required restaurants to shorten their business hours to 8 p.m. In that case, the number of new infections is estimated to peak at 792 in Tokyo regardless of holding or cancelling the Games.

Tokyo reported about 1,100 new infections in early May.

However, if the Indian (Delta) variant, which is considered to be more infectious than the Alpha one, spreads, the number of new infections is expected to explode to over 5,500 in September with the complete lifting of the state of emergency.

“We can minimize the impact of the Olympics by taking firm measures during the Games.” said Kurahashi.