After previously becoming the first scheduled nation to withdraw from the Olympics over fears of the rise in COVID-19 cases in Tokyo, Guinea reconsidered and reversed its decision Thursday, announcing it will send its delegation of five athletes to the Games.

It was a swift change of heart less than 24 hours after the country's minister of sports, Bantama Sow, issued a statement Wednesday night that Guinea intended to sideline its participants because of "the resurgence of COVID variants."

"The Minister of State, Minister of Sports has the true pleasure of informing the people of Guinea and the whole sports family, that the government, after obtaining guarantees from the health authorities, agrees to the participation of our athletes in the 32nd Olympics in Tokyo," Sow said in a statement Thursday.

Team Guinea consists of: Fatoumata Yarie Camara, a freestyle wrestler; swimmers Mamadou Tahirou Bah and Fatoumata Lamarana Toure; track athlete Aissata Deen Conte; and judo competitor Mamadou Samba Bah.

Guinea had been the first nation scheduled to participate to pull out because of virus fears. North Korea never committed to the Tokyo Olympics for that reason.

There were nearly 2,000 new COVID-19 cases in Tokyo reported Thursday, the city's highest daily total since January.

The opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in Japan's capital is scheduled for Friday.

The 1,979 new coronavirus cases were 671 more than the total from last Thursday and the most since 2,044 were recorded on Jan. 15.

Tokyo has been under a state of emergency since July 12, but infections have continued to climb since then. Only about 23 percent of Japanese are fully vaccinated, compared to about 50 percent in the U.S. and Canada.

Spectators are banned from all venues in the Tokyo area for the Summer Olympics, which were delayed for a year by the pandemic.

--Field Level Media

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