Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto has defended the request ©Getty Images

Tokyo 2020 has faced criticism from healthcare workers in the country over a request to secure 500 nurses for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Tokyo 2020 chief executive Toshiro Muto confirmed organisers had made the request earlier this week, but stressed their key priority was that it did not impact local medical care amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We asked that around 500 nurses be considered," Muto said, according to Reuters.

"The main condition is that this must not negatively affect regional medical care."

The request to the Japanese Nursing Association has received criticism online.

The Japan Times reported that a Twitter hashtag, translating as "We can't have nurses dispatched to the Olympics", became a trending topic in Japan in response.

Organisers have faced criticism for seeking to secure the support of nurses for the multi-sport event as new COVID-19 cases rise in Japan.

Muto has defended the request, repeating that organisers had stressed that the local community should not be impacted should nurses help to support the Games.

"We need to come up with a way to coexist," Muto said, according to Agence France-Presse.

"That's what I mean with being flexible with working hours and shifts and so on.

"We are consulting about that."

Tokyo 2020 published the latest athlete playbooks for the Olympic and Paralympic Games yesterday ©Getty Images
Tokyo 2020 published the latest athlete playbooks for the Olympic and Paralympic Games yesterday ©Getty Images

Tokyo is among the prefectures under emergency measures to curb the spike in COVID-19 infections introduced around the country's Golden Week holidays, which began today.

Public opposition to the Olympic Games, scheduled to open on July 23, remains high in Japan because of the global health crisis.

Organisers this week confirmed further measures for the Games in the second version of the athletes and officials playbook.

Athletes will be tested for COVID-19 daily throughout the Games under the latest plans.

All participants at the Games will be required to take two COVID-19 tests within 96 hours before they fly to Japan, while officials, coaches and the media will be tested daily for three days after their arrival in the host country.

Athletes who test positive will be prevented from competing at the Games, as outlined in the first playbook in February, and have again been warned that a failure to comply with the measures could result in being stripped of their accreditation.

The increased measures were confirmed amid major rises in COVID-19 cases in Brazil and India, with the latter reporting nearly 380,000 new infections yesterday.

Japan reported 5,793 new COVID-19 cases yesterday, with the capital city Tokyo accounting for more than 1,000.

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, with the Paralympics set to follow between August 24 and September 5.