The delayed Nikkei reports, as Japan’s government attempts to host the international games while stopping the spread of COVID-19.will go ahead, but not the way Japanese officials first imagined. Tokyo was officially placed under a state of emergency for a third time on Thursday,
The state of emergency means restaurants will be barred from serving alcohol, and have to close by 8 p.m. More importantly for the Olympics, it’s speculated that spectators will be barred from attending the games. No announcement on attendance capacity has been made, but officials from the Tokyo metropolitan government and the International Olympic Committee will soon meet to make a determination, according to Nikkei.
“New cases in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area have been rising since June,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga was reported as saying in the Japan Times. “Stronger measures have become necessary in those areas, but could be lifted early if we see evidence of the positive impact of the vaccine rollout.”
Tokyo’s COVID-19 cases peaked with the new year, with over 2,392 new cases on Jan. 8. Numbers have fallen since, but they’ve been rising since the middle of June. Tokyo recorded 337 new COVID-19 cases on June 15, but July has seen new cases fluctuate between 500 and 920. It’s the third state of emergency the city has endured since the pandemic’s onset, following similar precautions in April and January.
Around 15% of Japan’s 126 million citizens have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
After being postponed more than a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Olympics are scheduled to begin July 23 in Tokyo. They’ll run through to Aug. 8. Though many experts cautioned against holding the games, Japan’s government has pressed on — albeit with increasing restrictions as the games approached.
Officials last month said local fans would be allowed to physically attend the games, but with venues limited to 50% capacity or up to 10,000 spectators max. In March, officials banned overseas spectators from the Olympics.
The IOC didn’t immediately respond to CNET’s request for comment.