Covid-19: Tokyo in a state of emergency during the Olympics

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga set to announce the decision later today. Restrictions on Tokyo prefertture will remain in place until August 22. As of yesterday 920 new cases, authorities are considering not admitting spectators to the Olympics. The government risks paying for the management of the Games at the ballot box.


Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga will today extend the state of emergency over the capital's prefecture until Aug. 22 in an attempt to contain new Covid-19 infections, according to a government official. Olympics organizers are now considering not admitting spectators to the Games, which will be held from July 23 to Aug. 8.

Talks on spectator restrictions are scheduled between today and tomorrow and will be chaired by International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach, who arrived in Tokyo today. 

Economy Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura reported that the state of emergency is expected to begin July 12, after authorities in the capital recorded 920 new cases yesterday, the highest count since mid-May.

As of now, the capital area is under a state of "near-emergency." Under the new restrictions, restaurants will be asked to stop serving alcohol and close at 8pm.

Government officials had insisted that the Games could be held safely with a small number of spectators (going against the advice of health experts). A setback for the ruling party in a local election held on July 4, however, forced Suga's cabinet to change course, leading him to decide on a public ban. 

Kyodo News reports that the premier's allies attributed the voters' decision to concern over the Olympics. Japan will have parliamentary elections this year, and the government could pay at the ballot box for pushing ahead with the Olympic Games.