Fans were banned from the pandemic-postponed Tokyo Olympics which will open in two weeks, following a state of emergency on Thursday, Olympic Minister Tamayo Marukawa told the Japanese news agency Kyodo. (More Sports News)
Earlier, Prime Minister of Japan Yoshihide Suga had hinted on Thursday that he expects to have no spectators under the state of emergency during the Games.
The ban was announced by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese organisers, reducing the games to a made-for-TV event.
Suga said the state of emergency would go in effect on Monday and last through Aug. 22. This means the Olympics, opening on July 23 and running through Aug. 8, will be held entirely under emergency measures. The Paralympics open on Aug. 24.
Tokyo reported 896 news cases on Thursday, up from 673 a week earlier. It's the 19th straight day that cases have topped the mark set seven days prior. New cases on Wednesday hit 920, the highest total since 1,010 were reported on May 13th.
The issue of the state of emergency is likely to mean that venues will be without any spectators, although sponsors and others may have access. The no-fan atmosphere could include the opening ceremony at National Stadium.
“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.
Suga, who had long favored fans, hinted at a no-fan Olympics in announcing the state of emergency.
“I have already said I won't hesitate to have no spectators,” he added.
Fans from aboard were banned months ago, and the new measures announced by Yoshihide Suga will clear venues around Tokyo — indoor and outdoor — of any fans at all.
The emergency declaration made for a rude arrival in Japan for IOC President Thomas Bach, who landed in Tokyo on Thursday just hours before the new measures were announced. He was to spend three days in self-isolation at the five-star hotel that lodges IOC members. (AP)