Tokyo 2020: State of emergency declared for Japanese capital throughout Olympics amid rise in Covid cases
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the state of emergency would go in effect on Monday and last until August 22; Japan's Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa said events in Tokyo will have no spectators; spectators will be allowed to attend venues in areas not affected by state of emergency
Last Updated: 20/07/21 11:14am
Organisers of the Tokyo Olympics have agreed to hold the event without spectators, according to Japan's Olympics minister Tamayo Marukawa.
It comes after Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced a state of emergency will last throughout the Olympics due to rising coronavirus infections in the capital.
Suga said the state of emergency would go into effect on Monday and last until August 22. This means the Olympics, opening on July 23 and running through to August 8, will be held entirely under emergency measures.
The International Olympic Committee came out in support of the decision, saying a "safe and secure" Games is of paramount importance in a statement on Thursday.
The statement, which was released after a meeting with the International Paralympic Committee (IPC), the Tokyo 2020 Organising Committee and the Tokyo and Japan government, also said: "All five parties deeply regret for the athletes and for the spectators that this measure had to be put in place."
Suga said the state of emergency was needed to prevent the resurgence of the future spread of cases across the country.
Spectators will be allowed to attend venues in three areas - Fukushima, Miyagi and Shizuoka - not affected by the state of emergency and in those cases the rule of 50 per cent capacity with a cap of 10,000 will remain in place.
Fans from abroad had already been banned from attending the Olympics. Two weeks ago, organisers and the IOC had decided on allowing venues to be filled to 50 per cent of capacity - but not exceeding 10,000 - before the latest announcement.
IOC President Thomas Bach arrived in Tokyo on Thursday. His arrival comes just two weeks before the postponed Tokyo Games are to open. The IOC and local organisers are attempting to hold the Games during a pandemic, despite opposition from the Japanese public and medical community.
The main focus of the emergency is a request for bars, restaurants and karaoke parlours serving alcohol to close. A ban on serving alcohol is a key step to tone down Olympic-related festivities and keep people from drinking and partying. Tokyo residents are expected to face stay-at-home requests and watch the Games on TV from home.
"How to stop people enjoying the Olympics from going out for drinks is a main issue," Health Minister Norihisa Tamura said.
The present state of emergency ends Sunday. Tokyo reported 920 new cases on Wednesday, up from 714 a week earlier. It was the 18th straight day of week-on-week increases, and was the highest total since 1,010 were reported on May 13.
The soaring cases are 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 the $1.4bn National Stadium.
The uptick in infections has also forced the Tokyo city government to pull the Olympic torch relay off capital streets, allowing it to run only on remote islands off the Tokyo coast. It's unclear how the torch will enter the stadium for the opening ceremony.
About 11,000 Olympians and 4,400 Paralympians are expected to enter Japan, with tens of thousands of officials, judges, administrators, sponsors, broadcasters, and media also entering. The IOC says more than 80 per cent of residents of the Olympic Village will be vaccinated.
Nationwide, Japan has had about 810,000 cases and nearly 14,900 deaths. Only 15 per cent of Japanese are fully vaccinated, still low compared with 47.4 per cent in the United States and almost 50 per cent in Britain.
Team GB to send largest-ever squad to foreign Games
Team GB will send its largest-ever delegation for an Olympics on foreign soil, with 376 athletes (and 22 reserves) set to compete across 26 sports.
There will be more women than men competing for Team GB at a summer Olympics for the first time, while all home nations will be represented.
Seven athletes from Northern Ireland, 18 from Wales and 42 from Scotland are included in the squad, with 122 returning Olympians and 51 returning Olympic medallists set to take part in Tokyo.
Skateboarder Sky Brown will become Great Britain's youngest ever summer Olympian at the age of 13, while the oldest member of the touring party will be 54-year-old equestrian athlete Carl Hester.
Team GB chef de mission Mark England submitted the team for Tokyo 2020 at midnight.