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No spectators for Tokyo Olympics venue as Japan declares state of emergency

By Saima Siddiqui 
Updated Date
No spectators for Tokyo Olympics venue as Japan declares state of emergency

Tokyo: While the Covid-19 infections are on rise, the Japanese government has announced a state of emergency in the country and banned spectators to watch Olympic events at the venues, in deliberate attempts to contain the spread. The International Olympic Committee and Japanese organizers announced on Thursday, just two weeks before the opening ceremony, that fans will be barred from the Tokyo Olympics as the administration look to contain the virus.

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The decision, described by Tokyo’s governor as “heartbreaking,” means the Games will be the first to take place largely behind closed doors and is another blow for organisers as they try to build momentum for the event.

The widely expected move was made following talks between the government, Tokyo organisers and Olympic and paralympic representatives.

It was “regrettable” that the Games were going to be held in a limited format, Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told a briefing, adding her apologies to those who had bought tickets.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said it was essential to prevent Tokyo, where the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant was spreading, from becoming the source of another wave of infections.

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The ban all but robs the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, of their last hope for pomp and public spectacle.

Once seen as a chance for Japan to stand large on the global stage after a devastating earthquake a decade ago, the showpiece event was delayed by the pandemic last year and has been hit by massive budget overruns.

Medical experts have said for weeks that having no spectators would be the least risky option, amid widespread public fears that an influx of thousands of athletes and officials will fuel a fresh wave of infections.

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