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    Tokyo Olympics: New Virus State of Emergency Declared in Japan

    Ahead of the July 23rd Olympics Inaugural, Japan’s government on Thursday announced a new virus state of emergency stretching throughout the Olympics, as reports said organisers could bar fans from almost all events at the Games.

    Coronavirus infections are rising in the capital, and the spread of the more infectious Delta variant has spooked officials. The rising cases threaten to derail plans to let up to 10,000 local fans into Olympic venues, and could mean Tokyo 2020 is the first ever Games held behind closed doors.

    Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the emergency measures — which are far looser than the harsh lockdowns seen in other parts of the world — will be in place until August 22.

    But the government could lift the emergency earlier “if the effect of vaccines becomes clear and an improvement is seen in the situation of hospital beds”, Suga said.

    Japan’s government on Thursday announced a new virus state of emergency stretching throughout the Olympics, as reports said organisers could bar fans from almost all events at the Games.

    With just two weeks until the July 23 opening ceremony, coronavirus infections are rising in the capital, and the spread of the more infectious Delta variant has spooked officials. The rising cases threaten to derail plans to let up to 10,000 local fans into Olympic venues, and could mean Tokyo 2020 is the first ever Games held behind closed doors.

    The Prime Minister spoke to the press regarding the handling of the declaration of a state of emergency

    Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the emergency measures — which are far looser than the harsh lockdowns seen in other parts of the world — will be in place until August 22.

    But the government could lift the emergency earlier “if the effect of vaccines becomes clear and an improvement is seen in the situation of hospital beds”, Suga said.

    Japan’s minister in charge of the virus response Yasutoshi Nishimura warned that new Covid-19 cases were rising in the capital.

    “As the movement of people increases, the more infectious Delta variant now accounts for around 30 percent of cases. This is expected to expand further,” he added.

    Under the virus emergency, alcohol will be banned at bars and restaurants, which will have to close by 8pm, Nishimura said. Events such as concerts and conferences will have to end by 9pm.

    And crucially, spectators at events will be capped at 5,000 people or 50 percent venue capacity, whichever is less.

    The decision puts pressure on Olympic 2021 organisers who are scrambling to make a final ruling on how many local fans, if any, will be in the stands at the Games.

    Several Japanese media outlets said organisers were now likely to bar spectators from all competition venues in Tokyo and three surrounding areas

    Overseas fans have already been barred from attending the Olympics, and organisers last month said they would limit local spectators to 10,000 people or 50 percent venue capacity.

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