The will be no spectators for the Olympic Games in Japan's Tokyo due to rising COVID-19 cases, Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa announced after discussions with officials and organisers on Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, a state of emergency has been declared in Tokyo, which will run throughout the Olympic Games. Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the emergency would run from July 12 and remain in place until August 22. However, bars and restaurants will not be allowed to serve alcohol till 20:00, reported BBC.
This comes after Tokyo reported 896 news cases today, up from 673 a week earlier. It's the 19th straight day that cases have topped the mark set seven days prior. New cases on Wednesday hit 920, the highest total since 1,010 were reported on May 13th.
"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.
Meanwhile, Dr. Shigeru Omi, a top government medical adviser, said: "The infections are in their expansion phase and everyone in this country must firmly understand the seriousness of it."
About 11,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians are expected to enter Japan, with tens of thousands of officials, judges, administrators, sponsors, broadcasters, and media also entering. The IOC says more than 80% of resident of the Olympic Village will be vaccinated.
Nationwide, Japan has had about 810,000 cases and nearly 14,900 deaths. Only 15% of Japanese are fully vaccinated, still low compared with 47.4% in the United States and almost 50% in Britain.