The Olympics kick off on July 23 with the opening ceremony in Tokyo. But even after postponing the Games for a year due to COVID-19, the pandemic appears set to loom large as the host city is officially in a state of emergency. And while Japan’s government already banned foreign spectators in March, it’s now been reported that no spectators will be allowed at all.
The Associated Press reported on July 8 that all fans are banned from Tokyo events based on what Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa told Kyodo, a Japanese news agency. Reuters also reported that Olympics organizers had agreed to events without spectators following talks with the Japanese government, writing that the move would impact Tokyo-based events. For venues outside the nation’s capital, Olympics organizers would make decisions based on the local situation.
The news came on Thursday after, as CNN reported, Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga declared a new state of emergency for Tokyo. The declaration is effective from July 12 to August 22 — a span that includes the entire Olympics schedule.
"The number of infected cases in the area including Tokyo has been increasing since the end of last month," Suga said Thursday, according to CNN. "The number of severe cases and bed occupancy rate continues to be on the low level, but considering the impact of variants, we need to enhance countermeasures so that the infection will not spread nationwide."
As Teen Vogue previously reported, the Delta variant is raising alarms all over due to its high rate of transmissibility. Last week, the Japan Times reported that Delta was impacting Japan, prompting consideration of the new state of emergency. According to the English-language Japanese paper, as July began, Tokyo was leading the country with Delta infections.
On July 1, the Japan Times also reported that the Japanese government said between February and June, six Olympics travelers upon entering the country had tested positive for the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
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Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue