Olympics to be held without spectators after Tokyo COVID emergency
- "We reached an agreement on no spectators at venues in Tokyo," Japan's Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa said
- A COVID-19 state of emergency was imposed on Tokyo for the duration of the Games earlier today
- Tokyo Olympics will be the first-ever to be held without fans in attendance
The Tokyo Olympics will be held without spectators at the venues in view of the COVID-19 state of emergency announced in the capital city, officials announced on Thursday. Earlier today, Japan had declared a new COVID-19 state of emergency in the capital city for the duration of the Games.
The decision means the upcoming Tokyo Olympics will be the first-ever to be held without fans in attendance.
"We reached an agreement on no spectators at venues in Tokyo," news agency AFP quoted Japan's Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa as saying following talks with local and national government officials, organisers and Olympic and Paralympic chiefs.
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While most Olympic events will be held in Tokyo, some will be hosted outside the capital city. Speaking on measures at the other venues, Marukawa said organisers will decide on "concrete measures" after discussions with each local governor.
People have already been advised to stay away from the marathon, being held in the northern Hokkaido region, after large parts of the cross-country torch relay was held behind closed doors.
The Olympics were originally scheduled to be held in July-August last year but were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. When organisers postponed it last year, there were talks of the delayed Games becoming a symbol that the world had conquered the virus.
However, reality has hit hard as Japan is currently witnessing a new spike in infections and more contagious variants, including the Delta Variant, are being discovered.
With vaccinations also moving at a slower pace - just 15% of the country's population is fully vaccinated - Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced a virus emergency in the capital from July 12 to August 22.
The measure is significantly looser than lockdowns seen elsewhere, largely limiting alcohol sales, shortening opening hours for restaurants and capping event attendances at 5,000 people.
"We will host the Games under the state of emergency. I think we can realise a safe and secure Games by taking these measures," he told reported after making the announcement.