Japan decided to declare a state of emergency on Thursday, banning all spectators from the upcoming Tokyo Olympics, officials said.
“In the event that a state of emergency or other priority measures aimed at preventing infection are implemented at any time after 12 July 2021, restrictions on spectator numbers at the Games, including non-spectator competitions, will be based on the content of the state of emergency or other relevant measures in force at that time,” according to a joint statement..
In response to the state of emergency, the Japanese government and Olympic parties decided to ban all spectators at any event, according to the statement.
The state of emergency will start on Monday and last through the Olympics until Aug 22, marking the fourth state order since the pandemic started, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Tokyo is placed under 6-week state of emergency as it braces for an influx of Olympic visitors. No alcohol sales at restaurants.https://t.co/uvZqWmz5Ly
— Mitsuru Obe (@mit_obe) July 8, 2021
“It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections,” Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said following the meeting, Reuters reported.
“I am sorry for those who purchased tickets,” Hashimoto said.
Over 3.5 million Olympic tickets were sold to Japanese citizens, according to the WSJ.
The emergency order requires restaurants and bars to close early and prohibit alcohol sales, the WSJ reported. Public transportation will stay open, and citizens are discouraged from taking unnecessary trips.
Stopping alcohol sales is expected to reduce Olympic-related parties and mass gatherings, the AP reported.
“How to stop people enjoying the Olympics from going out for drinks is a main issue,” Health Minister Norihisa Tamura told the AP.
Tokyo saw 920 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, the highest since May, according to the AP. Two-thirds of the cases are from the Tokyo area, director-general of the National Institute of Infectious Disease Ryuji Wakita told the AP.
“Our concern is the spread of the infections to neighboring areas,” Wakita said.
Japan’s vaccination rate is only 15% compared to 47.4% in the U.S., according to the AP. The nation has had 810,000 COVID-19 cases resulting in 14,900 deaths.