Thursday, August 5, 2021

Japan declares state of emergency 2 weeks ahead of Tokyo Olympics

Japan has declared a state of emergency in Tokyo which will run throughout the Olympic Games, to combat COVID-19.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga informed the media that it would remain in place until 22nd August.

One of the ministers announced bars and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol and must close by 20:00  local time. Coronavirus infections are rising in Tokyo as the 23rd July opening ceremony edges closer.

There has been widespread opposition to the Games in Japan, with calls for them to be postponed or cancelled. Japanese Prime Minister said, taking into consideration the effect of Coronavirus variants and not to let the infections spread again to the rest of the nation, countermeasures need to be strengthened. Organisers are reportedly also considering barring fans from almost all Olympic events.

The announcement was made after a meeting between the organising committee, the government and the International Olympic Committee President, Thomas Bach, arrived in Japan.

The Olympic Games are scheduled to take place in the Japanese Capital between 23rd July and 8th August. The Paralympic Games are between 24th August and 5th September.

A new wave of infections began in April, but overall the country 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, the highest since 13th May.

Japan’s vaccination rollout has been slow, and just over 15 per cent of the country is fully vaccinated. There is rising concern over the threat of the Delta variant. In Tokyo and Osaka, the two cities hit hardest by the recent surge. Entry to Japan by foreigners from 159 countries – including the UK – is currently banned.

There is a lot of opposition to the Games, which have already been postponed by a year because of COVID-19 and have experienced setbacks, including massive budget overruns. Public spectator sites have been scrapped and companies have been hesitant about advertising related to the Olympics because of the widespread opposition to them.

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