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OLYMPICS

Denmark joins calls to postpone Tokyo Olympics until pandemic over

Denmark has joined the chorus of countries, including Norway, the UK, Croatia, and Brazil, calling for the Olympics to be postponed for a year.

Denmark joins calls to postpone Tokyo Olympics until pandemic over
Morten Mølholm, Director General of the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark, at a press conference, back in 2018. Photo: Asger Ladefoged/Ritzau Scanpix
Morten Mølholm, Director General of the National Olympic Committee and Sports Confederation of Denmark (DIF), said that he believed the Summer Olympics in Tokyo should be held in 2021 instead.  
 
“We have great respect for the complicated situation the IOC are in, because the Olympics are a big thing,” he told Danish state broadcaster DR. “But we are having a hard time seeing us having an Olympics in the current situation. That's why we think the right solution is to postpone them.” 
 
The decision comes after Norway on Friday sent a formal letter to the IOC, calling for them to postpone the games until the the pandemic is “under firm control on a national scale”. 
 
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The IOC on Sunday responded to mounting pressure with a statement promising to “step up scenario planning” for the games. IOC President Thomas Bach last week said it was “premature” to consider postponing them. The DIF on Wednesday echoed this position, saying that it was “too early to decide”. 
 
But Mølholm told DR on Sunday that even putting the risk of reigniting the pandemic on hold, he did not see how an Olympics held in today's conditions could be fair on athletes. 
 
“At the moment we are in a totally chaotic situation, where many athletes do not have the opportunity to train, and participate in qualifying rounds. Therefore, the only right thing is to create clarity about the situation by taking the decision to postpone it.” 
 
“We do not believe that we can have a fair Olympics this year, as the conditions will be so different for the different athletes.” 
 
He said that difficulties re-booking venues would probably make it practically difficult to postpone by only a few months, making a postponement of a full year the best option. 

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COVID-19

Covid deaths in Sweden ‘set to rise in coming weeks’

The Public Health Agency of Sweden has warned that the number of weekly Covid deaths is set to rise, after the number of people testing positive for the virus rose for the sixth week running.

Covid deaths in Sweden 'set to rise in coming weeks'

According to the agency, an average of 27 people have died with or from the virus a week over the past three weeks. 

“According to our analyses, the number who died in week 27 (July 4th-July 11th), is more than died in week 26 and we expect this to continue to grow,” the agency wrote in a report issued on Thursday. 

In the week ending July 17th (week 28), 4,700 new cases of Covid-19 were registered, a 22 percent rise on the previous week. 

“We are seeing rising infection levels of Covid-19 which means that there will be more people admitted to hospital, and even more who die with Covid-19,”  said Anneli Carlander, a unit chief at the agency. “The levels we are seeing now are higher than they were last summer, but we haven’t reached the same level we saw last winter when omicron was spreading for the first time.” 

While 27 deaths a week with for from Covid-19 is a rise on the low levels seen this spring, it is well below the peak death rate Sweden saw in April 2020, when more than 100 people were dying a day. 

The number of Covid deaths recorded each week this summer. Source. Public Health Agency of Sweden
A graph of Covid deaths per day since the start of the pandemic shows that the current death rate, while alarming, remains low. Photo: Public Health Agency of Sweden

Carlander said that cases were rising among those in sheltered accommodation for the elderly, and also elderly people given support in their own homes, groups which are recommended to get tested for the virus if they display symptoms. The infection rate among those given support in their homes has risen 40 percent on last week. 

This week there were also 12 new patients admitted to intensive care units with Covid-19 in Sweden’s hospitals.  

The increase has come due to the new BA.5 variant of omicron, which is better able to infect people who have been vaccinated or already fallen ill with Covid-19. Vaccination or a past infection does, however, give protection against serious illness and death. 

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