Any fans will be prohibited from attending all Olympic events in Tokyo this month and next, according to government officials and organisers on Thursday, the same day the city was declared to be in a state of emergency for more than a month.
Previously, organisers stated that only local Japanese spectators would be permitted to attend Olympic games in order to avoid coronavirus infections from international supporters. However, they said on Thursday that the restriction will now apply to all spectators owing to worries about an increase in instances in Japan.
The prohibition was issued by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga and Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike.
Earlier Thursday, Suga said Tokyo will be under a new state of emergency starting on Monday and it will run through Aug. 22, well past the end of the Summer Games.
“The number of severe cases and bed occupancy rate continues to be on the low level, but considering the impact of variants, we need to enhance countermeasures so that the infection will not spread nationwide,” Suga said, according to CNN.
Tokyo 2020 President Hashimoto Seiko said the extension of the emergency left organizers “no choice” to but shutdown Olympic venues entirely.
“There are many people who were looking forward to the Games,” Seiko said, according to ABC News. “We are very sorry we are able to deliver only a limited version of the Games but we want to … ensure a safe and secure Games so that the people world over will be able to find the Olympic and Paralympic ideals.”
Earlier, International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach arrived in Tokyo to meet with Hashimoto and Koike about plans for spectators.
A prohibition on late-night tournaments at large venues (those with a capacity of 5,000 or more) was one possibility explored. Exceptions for “special guests,” IOC members, sponsors, and international dignitaries were also considered.
Last month, local organisers and the IOC announced that venues will be limited to 50% occupancy up to 10,000 people.
A torchbearer lights the celebration cauldron during the Olympic torch relay at Yokohama Red Brick Warehouse park in Yokohama, Japan, on June 30, 2021. Photo by Keizo Mor