Tokyo has declared a state of emergency that will be affecting the upcoming Olympic games. Although the games won’t be cancelled, it has been revealed that there will be no spectators at any of the venues.
Due to a surge in COVID-19 cases, the state of emergency announcement was made in order to contain the virus. As a result, the Olympic games committee met to decide on the future of the Tokyo Olympics. Officials have agreed that the games won’t be cancelled, but there will be no spectators.
Officials decide no audiences will be present at the Olympics
International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach made the decision with Japanese officials & event organizers. “We have shown this responsibility since the day of the postponement,” Bach told Kyodo News.
Bach continued, “And we will also show it today, and we will support any measure which is necessary to have a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games for the Japanese people and all the participants.”
“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,” Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said.
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has reported that the state of emergency will begin Monday and end on August 22nd. The Tokyo Olympics will occur from July 23rd through August 8th. The Paralympics will take place on August 24th.
The state of emergency & COVID-19 cases in Japan
The recent state of emergency was set in place to request that bars, restaurants, and karaoke parlors that serve alcohol temporarily close. This ban on serving alcohol is considered a major factor in minimizing Olympic game celebrations. Tokyo residents are requested to work from home if possible and watch the Olympic games from home.
These efforts are in place due in part to Tokyo’s recent surge in COVID-19 cases. The city reported 896 new coronavirus cases on Thursday which is more than the 637 cases reported last week. This will be Tokyo’s fourth state of emergency since the pandemic began.
Prime Minister Suga announced, “The number of infected cases in the area including Tokyo has been increasing since the end of last month.” He added, “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.”
According to CNN’s global vaccine tracker, only 15% of people in Japan are fully vaccinated. Compared to the U.S.’s 47% and the U.K.’s 50% of people being fully vaccinated, Japan is direly behind. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Japan has reported at least 814,315 cases & 14,865 deaths.
What experts think about the Olympic update
Medical Analyst Dr. Leana Wen reported, “I am really relieved that they made this decision. I was worried about what would happen when you get a lot of people together. Even if there is spacing and masking at the venue, I was concerned about the message this would send.”
She added, “People when they travel from other places, tend to gather in restaurants and in other informal settings as well. I think this was exactly the right thing. Let the athletes who have been working their entire lives to compete, but without the risk of super-spreader events.”
Some experts believe that even without spectators, the Olympic games are still a safety hazard and should be cancelled. Epidemiologist Mike Toole from the Burnet Institute in Melbourne, Australia argued, “Even without spectators, it’s not a bubble. There are too many leaks in it.”
“Having these 70,000 volunteers out in the community, moving from neighborhood to neighborhood, then going into the Games – where you have around 20% unvaccinated – then you’re looking at a high-risk scenario,” said Toole.
What do you think about the Olympic officials’ decision to ban a live audience? Should the Olympics be cancelled instead? Let us know in the comments below!