Japan has decided to hold out spectators from Olympic venues in Tokyo due to the city’s covid state of emergency that will run throughout the event. Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto made the announcement following talks between government officials, Tokyo organisers and Olympic and paralympic representatives.
“It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections. I am sorry to those who purchased tickets and everyone in local areas” Reuters quoted Hashimoto as saying.
Japan Prime minister Yoshihide Suga said it was essential to prevent Tokyo adding that the state of emergency would go in effect on Monday and last until August 22. This means the Olympics, opening on July 23 and running until August 8, will be held entirely under emergency measures.
“The number of infected cases in the area including Tokyo has been increasing since the end of last month. The number of severe cases and bed occupancy rate continues to be on the low level, but considering the impact of variants, we need to enhance countermeasures so that the infection will not spread nationwide,” said Suga, speaking at the start of the government’s Covid-19 task force meeting. Bars and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol and must close by 20:00 (11:00 GMT). Coronavirus infections are rising in Tokyo as the 23 July opening ceremony edges closer.
Suga has faced severe criticism for his decision to conduct Olympics in Tokyo, with calls for them to be postponed or cancelled.
The country is under the grip of a new wave of covid since but it has had relatively low case numbers and a death toll of around 14,900 On Wednesday, there were 2,180 new cases reported in the country. Some 920 of those were in Tokyo, up from 714 last week and its highest since 1,010 on 13 May.