Spectators Barred From Tokyo Olympics As Fourth COVID-19 Health Emergency Declared In Japan's Capital

The Tokyo Olympics will be held without spectators at venues as the Japanese government imposed a new state of emergency in Tokyo from July 22 to Aug. 22 for dealing with a surge in COVID-19 cases.

Empty Seats: Kyodo News reported the ban on spectators was agreed upon during a Thursday meeting between representatives of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the International Paralympic Committee, Japan’s Olympics organizing committees and the Japanese and Tokyo metropolitan governments.

"We have shown this responsibility since the day of the postponement," said Thomas Bach, president of the IOC. "And we will also show it today, and we will support any measure which is necessary to have a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games for the Japanese people and all the participants."

Continuing Health Crisis: The new state of emergency is the fourth COVID-induced state of emergency for the capital city and will cover the entire Olympic Games schedule, which runs from July 23 through Aug. 8.

Pre-Emergency Measures: Tokyo recorded more than 900 COVID cases on July 7, according to an Asahi Shimbun report.

Outside of the capital, pre-emergency measures are being extended through Aug. 22 in Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures, which neighbor Tokyo, and in Osaka in the western part of Japan. A state of emergency is in place for the Okinawa Prefecture through Aug. 22.

Pre-emergency measures in place for five other prefectures – Aichi, Fukuoka, Hokkaido, Hyogo and Kyoto – are set to expire on July 11.

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Where Is The Emperor? Asahi Shimbun also reported the Olympics itinerary for Emperor Naruhito has yet to be determined, even though the games are only 15 days from opening. It's still unclear if the emperor will host foreign dignitaries at the Imperial Palace or if members of the royal family will attend any of the events during the games.

“We are in the process of scheduling,” said Yasuhiko Nishimura, head of the Imperial Household Agency, during a Thursday morning news conference. “I have nothing to say about it at the moment.”

In a June 24 news conference, Nishimura sparked a controversy when he reported “the emperor is concerned about holding the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games, for which he serves as honorary president, while people are voicing anxiety over whether it will lead to a spread of infections.”

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga claimed Nishimura was voicing his own personal views with the comments, but Nishimura hasn't backpedaled on his remarks.

Photo: Emperor Naruhito photo courtesy of TICAD7 / Flickr Creative Commons.

Posted In: Covid-19COVID-19 PandemicEmperor NaruhitoInternational Olympic CommitteeTokyo OlympicsNewsHealth CareSportsGlobalMediaGeneral

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