State of emergency declared in Tokyo ahead of Olympics

apanese Prime Minister Yoshihde Suga on Thursday officially announced a state of emergency in Tokyo just two weeks ahead of the Olympics amid an increase in COVID-19 cases in the capital city. 

“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 measures,” Suga said in a statement unveiling the order, according to The Associated Press

The state of emergency is scheduled to go into effect Monday and last through Aug. 22, while the Olympics are set to open on July 23 and conclude on Aug. 8. The Paralympics are set to open on Aug. 24. 

According to the AP, the order mandates the closure of bars, restaurants and karaoke parlors serving alcohol, with Tokyo residents also likely to face stay-at-home orders during the Games. 

The state of emergency is expected to be followed by a ban on spectators at the Olympics, with Reuters reporting earlier this week that top officials were reconsidering their decision to allow 10,000 local fans, or approximately 50 percent capacity, at the Games. 

“Politically speaking, having no spectators is now unavoidable,” a Japan ruling party source told the news service. 

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach arrived in Tokyo on Thursday, the same day the capital reported 896 new coronavirus infections, an increase from 673 recorded a week earlier, according to the AP.

New COVID-19 cases on Wednesday reached 920, the highest recorded since Tokyo’s hit 1,010 new infections within a 24-hour period in mid-May. 

Japan has now had a total of roughly 810,000 coronavirus infections and nearly 14,900 fatalities due to the virus as the country has recorded a relatively low vaccination rate. 

About 25 percent of people in Japan have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, with just 15 percent fully vaccinated, the AP noted.