Is Tokyo Olympics canceled? Japan to impose virus emergency until August 22
The Japanese government might impose a virus state of emergency in Tokyo during the Olympics, which is scheduled to start from July 23, reports say. The recent development comes in wake of a spike in COVID cases less than three weeks before the Games start. The 'virus state of emergency' simply means that spectators could be barred from the venues.
According to reports that came out Wednesday, July 7, the emergency measures are expected to be less than a blanket lockdown. According to several Japanese media outlets, it will be in force until August 22. "The government decided to declare the fourth state of emergency for Tokyo and communicated the decision to the ruling parties," public broadcaster NHK said. Citing a senior government official, Kyodo news reported that it is most likely that the Olympics would be held behind closed doors. It is important to note that overseas fans are already banned from the Games.
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Organizers had set a limit of 10,000 fans or half of each venue's capacity. Last month, Tokyo Olympics chief, Seiko Hashimoto said the Games would only be canceled in extreme circumstances. She emphasized that the Games will go on unless the pandemic prevents a majority of teams from travelling. "If various countries experience very serious situations and delegations from most countries can't come, then we wouldn't be able to hold it. But conversely, unless such a situation emerges, the games will not be canceled, " she said.
Organizers last month revealed that about 10000 volunteers had quit the Games amongst COVID fears, a sexism row and scheduling problems. Tokyo 2020 CEO Toshiro Muto said that 10000 out of the 80000 volunteers, who were pivotal to the smooth running of the event, had quit over the COVID situation. According to Muto, some dropped out after the Games were postponed, while some in protest against the sexist remarks made by Hashimoto's predecessor, who was made to resign. Muto further said that the reduction in the number of volunteers is less likely to affect the Games because the event is scaled back, so fewer people are needed.
Although Japan's Covid-19 outbreak has not been severe (with around 14,800 deaths), but experts claimed that another wave could hit as the Games begin. 11,000 Olympic athletes from around 200 countries are set to take part in the Games and participants have already begun arriving in the country. A survey conducted last month showed that about 80 percent of Japanese are opposing the Games. However, Hashimoto said she believed that public opinion will change soon as Japan's initially slow vaccine campaign will begin to gain pace. She said, "We are hearing more and more voices from people saying 'if this is the case, the Olympics may be able to take place'."