Olympics to take place without spectators as Japan declares state of emergency over virus concerns

Olympics COVID-19
Posted at 2:36 AM, Jul 08, 2021

The 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo will take place without spectators after Japan declared a state of emergency amid a rise in COVID-19 cases.

BBC and CNN report that Olympics Minister Tamayo Marukawa announced Thursday that the upcoming games would occur without fans in the stands.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga says the state of emergency will last from next Monday to Aug. 22.

The Olympics begin July 23 and close Aug. 8.

In June, organizers announced that attendance at the games would be limited to 10,000 local fans at all Olympic venues, so long as those fans wore masks, refrained from cheering and went straight home following the event.

Suga's announcement came just hours after the arrival of IOC president Thomas Bach in Tokyo.

The emergency was prompted by rising cases, low vaccination rates and the concern that issuing an emergency too late would lead to illnesses and deaths.

According to the Associated Press, Japan reported 920 new cases of the virus on Wednesday, the highest number of new cases since May. Experts fear that Japan could see as many as 1,000 new cases a day before the Games open at the end of the month.

Bloomberg reports that Japan has only distributed enough vaccines to cover 21% of its population. By comparison, the U.S. has distributed enough vaccines to cover 52% of its population.