Commuters sit in a train carrying a poster showing the Tokyo 2020 Olympics mascot, Miraitowa, in Tokyo. File/AP
Olympic organisers on Thursday are set to ban all spectators from the Games, according to one of the largest newspapers in Japan “Asahi” daily as Japan's government announced a new virus state of emergency stretching throughout the games.
"We will impose the state of emergency in Tokyo," Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said at a government meeting on infection measures. "The period will be until August 22."
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The Games are scheduled to run from July 23 to Aug. 8.
Anyone wanting to support athletes has been told to clap rather than cheer or sing. Sponsors are cancelling or scaling back booths and events tied to the Games, frustrated by the "very last-minute" decisions by organisers, sources told a local news agency.
Picture used for illustrative purposes only.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga further said, “Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants and not to let the infections spread again to the rest of the nation, we need to strengthen our countermeasures.
"Given the situation, we will issue a state of emergency for Tokyo."Until this week, officials have insisted they could organise the Games safely with some spectators, but a ruling party setback in a Tokyo assembly election on Sunday, which some allies of Suga attributed to public anger over the Olympics, had forced the change of tack, sources said.
“There was one person in the Village. That was the very first case in the Village that was reported during the screening test,” Masa Takaya, spokesman for the Tokyo organising committee, told a press conference.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is scheduled to hold a news conference at 6pm (0900 GMT) when he is expected to announce the lifting of the emergency in 39 of Japan's 47 prefectures, but not in Tokyo.
The Japanese capital and Olympic host city Tokyo is on track to report a record number of coronavirus cases, days after the Olympics began, exceeding the earlier record of 2,520 cases from Jan. 7.
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