Tokyo Olympics organizers on Thursday agreed to hold the Games without spectators, after Japan declared a state of emergency over COVID-19 in the capital for the duration. expected time of the event.
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The move was announced after talks between the government, Tokyo organizers and Olympic and Paralympic representatives, Reuters reported.
Tokyo 2020 Olympic President Seiko Hashimoto spoke at a press conference and apologized to those who bought tickets. He said it was “regrettable” that the Olympics had to take place in a limited manner.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said it is essential to prevent Tokyo from becoming the source of another wave of infections as the Indian variant (Delta) is trending higher.
“We absolutely must avoid letting Tokyo become the starting point of another wave of contagion,” Mr. Suga said, adding that the vaccination had made “good progress”.
Once seen as an opportunity for Japan to stand on the global stage after a devastating earthquake a decade ago, the Olympic event was delayed due to the pandemic last year, causing huge economic losses to the country. organization.
Health experts have said for weeks that no spectators would be the least risky option, amid public concern that thousands of athletes and officials would spark a new wave of infections. .
According to a recent forecast by Yuki Furuse, a Kyoto University professor working with the government’s coronavirus expert group, the number of daily new cases in Tokyo could rise to 1,000 in July and 2,000 in May. 8, increasing the risk that hospitals in the capital will run out of beds.
Since the outbreak began, Japan has had more than 810,000 cases and 14,900 deaths.
Currently, only about a quarter of Japan’s population has received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine.
The new state of emergency in Tokyo came as the capital announced 896 new infections on July 8, the highest level since mid-May.