TOKYO (NewsNation Now) — A state of emergency in Tokyo is clouding the spirit of the Olympic games as they begin this week.
COVID-19 cases have surged to a six-month high there, and less than a quarter of the Japanese population is fully vaccinated.
Since July 1, 75 people connected to the Olympics have tested positive, according to the International Olympic Committee. Today, two Olympians — including an American, Tyler Crabb — had their dreams of gold stopped because of the virus.
Two alternate members of the U.S. gymnastics team also tested positive, but they were not expected to compete.
The Great Britain team also got bad news Wednesday. A skeet shooting medal favorite Amber Hill posted on Instagram that she will not compete in the games and she is now isolating despite not having symptoms.
Despite the daily rise in cases, IOC President Thomas Bach said he’s hopeful that these games can be a light for the world.
“It is a recipe for overcoming a crisis and for addressing a crisis,” Bach said. “Then after the games, this message of hope will transfer to a message of confidence.”
Aside from the pandemic, athletes are using newfound leeway to make political statements. Previously, protests were forbidden, but the IOC will allow some expression before and after events.
The U.S. and Swedish women’s soccer teams all took a knee to protest inequality around the globe. “I obviously encourage everyone to use that platform to the best of their ability to do the most good that they possibly can in the world, especially as all eyes are on Tokyo these next couple weeks,” U.S. captain Megan Rapinoe said.
“This is expressively what has been mentioned in these guidelines,” Bach said of the demonstration.
But, after the protest on the soccer pitch, Sweden beat the heavily-favored U.S. women 3-0. It was the Americans’ first loss in 44 matches.
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