Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga's emergency orders start Monday, July 12.
In efforts to prevent the further spread of COVID-19, Japan has announced fans will no longer be welcome at the Olympic games. The news was officially confirmed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Thursday, citing the orders drafted by Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga barring spectators from indoor and outdoor venues.
The Associated Press reports emergency orders will go into effect from Monday, July 12, through Sunday, August 22, which would cover the entirety of the large-scale event that begins on July 23. While fans outside Japan were already barred from attending, this means residents will also be asked to enjoy the games at home.
“Taking into consideration the impact of the delta strain, and in order to prevent the resurgence of infections from spreading across the country, we need to step up virus prevention measures,” Suga said in a statement.
Japan will ban all spectators from Olympic venues in and around Tokyo, reversing course after a surge in covid cases https://t.co/kmWXnqnlsJ— The Washington Post (@washingtonpost) July 8, 2021
Suga's decision comes in the wake of accelerating cases throughout the country, particularly in Tokyo where over half of newly reported cases are emerging. Only 15-percent of the total citizenry are vaccinated, and the games are expected to draw thousands of participants and media figures from outside the country. Organizers recently proposed opening venues at half capacity with a cap on crowds, but present conditions called for stricter procedures.
Part of these prevention measures includes closing bars and restaurants. A motivating factor for the order was the social behaviors encouraged during the games, and shuttering public establishments would cut down on visitors transmitting the virus. Japan has netted a total of 810,000 cases, with almost 900 new infections reported on Thursday alone.
Courtesy of Olympics (Facebook)
The move has undoubtedly sown some disruption since its announcement. IOC President Thomas Bach has undergone a multi-day quarantine following his arrival in Japan before the orders, while city officials have changed the route location for the torch relay, a decision that may affect the opening ceremony.
Despite the uncertainties, officials stress that vigilance is key in combatting the virus' spread.
“The infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it,” said government medical advisor Dr. Shigeru Omi.
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