The number of new cases of coronavirus peaked for the past six months on Thursday in Tokyo on the eve of the opening of the Olympics, amid rising COVID-19 infections of growing concern on the sidelines of the event.
The 1,979 infections recorded on Thursday represent a record since 2,044 cases were noted on January 15.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is determined to host the Games, imposed a state of emergency in Tokyo on July 12, but the daily toll has grown steadily since then.
The emergency measures, which essentially represent a ban on the sale of alcohol and reduced hours for bars and restaurants, will remain in effect until August 22, after the Olympics end on August 8.
Japan has reported around 853,000 cases and 15,100 deaths since the start of the pandemic, mainly this year. However, the number of cases and deaths as a proportion of the population is significantly lower than in other countries.
The Olympics are due to start on Friday, after being delayed for a year by the pandemic. No spectators will be allowed in the Tokyo area, but a small audience will be tolerated elsewhere.
Some criticize Mr. Suga’s government for putting the Games ahead of public health. Its approval rating has plunged to around 30% in recent polls, and there is little enthusiasm for hosting the Games. Opening ceremony director Kentaro Kobayashi was fired on Thursday for once joking about the Holocaust.
Mr. Suga is due to meet with U.S. First Lady Jill Biden on Thursday. Also on Thursday, Emperor Naruhito welcomed the President of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, to the Imperial Palace.
Experts warn that infections among unvaccinated people under the age of 50 are on the rise.
The vaccination campaign started slowly and late in Japan, but the pace picked up in May, when the government became more insistent as the Games approached. Problems with the supply of imported vaccines are now reported.
About 23% of Japanese are fully immunized, far from the percentage required to reduce the risk to the general population.
Experts warned on Wednesday that the situation was likely to continue to deteriorate for several more weeks in the Tokyo area.