This summer’s Olympic Games are set to go ahead in Tokyo, but without any spectators present. The development comes after a recent surge in COVID-19 cases, with Tokyo 2020 chief Seiko Hashimoto stating that organisers had reached an agreement that there shouldn’t be any spectators present.
Hashimoto described the situation as ‘regrettable’, apologising to fans who have already purchased their tickets. However, this decision was expected, given the sudden surge of cases. As per the Guardian, Tokyo reported 920 new cases on July 7, compared with 714 just one week prior.
This is understood to be the highest number of infections since May. Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has stated that Tokyo’s fourth state of emergency would begin as of Monday, July 12, 11 days before the opening of the Olympic Games.
This means the Japanese government will now ban bars and restaurants from serving alcoholic beverages, as well as reinforcing early closing time. According to BBC News, this was announced after a meeting between the Olympic Games organising committee, members of the Japanese government, and International Olympic Committee president, Thomas Bach.
Right before the decision was taken, Hashimoto shared, ‘We need to issue a message which is strong and easy to understand from the point of view of preventing the further spread [of the virus]’. The vaccine rollout among the Japanese has also been notably slow compared to other countries, with just over 15% of citizens being fully vaccinated at present.
It is hoped that all those above the age of 65 will be fully vaccinated by the end of the month.