A surge in Covid-19 cases has forced authorities in Japan to hold the Olympics without spectators in Tokyo. Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in the capital, which will remain in effect from July 12 through August 22. The Games are scheduled to happen between July 23 and August 8.
It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections. I am sorry to those who purchased tickets and everyone in local areasYoshihide Suga, Japan’s Prime Minister
The rise in cases had taken many by surprise. Just last week, some officials still held hopes they could safely organize the Games with some fans: the goal was to limit entry to Japanese residents only, and cap it to 10,000 people at a time. Now that the state of emergency has been declared, the idea of having any fans at all has been discarded. The state of emergency mandates that businesses like restaurants have to adhere to an 8 p.m. curfew and a temporary alcohol ban.
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 measuresYoshihide Suga, Japan’s Prime Minister
According to Travel + Leisure, the state of emergency will be effective in Tokyo, but also other major Japanese prefectures such as Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Osaka. The prefectures of Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukuoka currently have emergency measures, which are set to expire on Sunday.
People will be asked not to gather for events on public roads, such as the triathlon, Reuters reported. Officials said, however, that some venues outside the greater Tokyo metropolitan area would allow small numbers of spectators. Prime Minister Suga gave, however, left the door open for potential hope. He said that if the rate of vaccination increases and the infection rate goes down, the government may consider ending the state of emergency early.
Meanwhile, on Thursday July 8th, the European Parliament (EP) called for the EU to boycott the February 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The EP is sending a strong signal to China in the hopes that country improves the human rights situation in Hong Kong, and in the Xinjiang province which is home to the Uyghur Muslim minority.
According to Euractiv, the non-binding resolution passed with 578 votes in favor, 29 against and 73 abstentions. It had the backing of all of Europe’s mainstream political groups, including the center-right EPP group of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and the centrists Renew group of France’s Emmanuel Macron.