Tokyo 2020 Olympics to be held under state of emergency
In a massive development, Japan Prime Minister Yoshihde Suga has announced a state of emergency due to rising number of COVID-19 infections in Tokyo. Suga said the state of emergency would come into effect on Monday, and could last over a month. This means the impending Tokyo Games, starting July 23, will be held under COVID-19 emergency. Here are further details.
Suga recently met with key ministers to discuss virus measures. It was reported that he is considering reinstating a state of emergency in the capital. "Taking into consideration the impact of the delta strain, and in order to prevent the resurgence of infections from spreading across the country, we need to step up virus prevention measures," Suga said while announcing the emergency measures.
Considering the state of emergency, the Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto announced that the Games will be held sans spectators. In June, the organizers had set a limit of 50 percent up to a maximum of 10,000 fans for all Olympic venues. Also, dining establishments in Tokyo won't be allowed to serve alcohol. They will be told to shut the doors by 8 PM.
Hashimoto announced the decision to hold the Games behind closed doors following talks between government officials, Tokyo organizers, 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," said Hashimoto.
International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach arrived in Tokyo on Thursday. He straightaway headed to the Tokyo Olympics headquarters in Tokyo. Bach avoided cameras at Tokyo's Haneda Airport, and is yet to comment on the matter. He will likely self-isolate for three days in a five-star hotel in the capital city. His arrival comes just two weeks before the start of Tokyo Olympics.
The ongoing quasi-state emergency in Tokyo and other areas is set to end on Sunday. Now, the newly-announced state of emergency will be in place from Monday. Tokyo reported 896 new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, up from 673 a week earlier. New cases on Wednesday surged to 920, the highest total since 1,010 cases were reported on May 13.
Japan's top medical experts have repeatedly urged the organizers to cancel the Tokyo Games in order to contain the spread of COVID-19. However, the postponement of 2020 Olympics by 15 months has stalled the income flow of IOC. It gets 75 percent of its income from selling broadcast rights. As per reports, it would lose between about $4 billion with the cancelation of Olympics.