Tokyo's Olympics Venues Won't Have Spectators in the Stands After All
The news comes as Japan enters a COVID State of Emergency.
As Japan enters a COVID-19 state of emergency just two weeks out from the start of the postponed 2020 Summer Olympic Games, Tokyo organizers have banned all spectators for the events. Changing course from an earlier rule that only prohibited international fans from attending, officials confirmed the stands will now go unoccupied.
In the wake of rising COVID-19 cases across the country, organizers met in an emergency meeting Thursday to discuss the best approach for avoiding a super-spreader situation at the Games. While speaking on the current situation in Japan, where the incredibly contagious Delta variant continues to spread, Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the Olympics will not fall victim to the virus, but rather it will be an example of "fortitude in the face of adversity," The New York Times reports.
"I want to transmit to them a message from Tokyo about overcoming hardship with effort and wisdom," Suga said in a broadcast.
Per the announcement, fans will be barred from all events in Tokyo and surrounding areas. Though a few events, including the marathon, will be held at areas not affected by the state of emergency, which means fans may be allowed to attend.
Japan officially entered a state of emergency on Monday. The move comes after Tokyo reported 920 new cases last week, marking an unfortunate milestone as the highest number since May. The state of emergency will continue through the entirety of the Olympics.
Though the impact of COVID-19 has been lesser in Japan (the death toll stands at just over 14,800) compared to other countries, the country has struggled to keep up with a slower vaccine rollout—especially as the Delta variant spreads at an alarming rate.