Fans will no longer be allowed at the Tokyo Olympics, starting in just two weeks, as Japan Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga declared a state of emergency in Tokyo due to the recent rise of COVID-19 cases.
“It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections,” Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto said, according to Reuters. “I am sorry to those who purchased tickets and everyone in local areas.”
Before the state of emergency was announced, fans were going to be limited to Japanese residents only and capped at 10,000 people at a time.
“Many people were looking forward to watching the games at the venues, but I would like everyone to fully enjoy watching the games on TV at home,” Tokyo Governor Yuriko Koike said, according to the Associated Press.
The Games, which were already delayed after being canceled last year, are scheduled for July 23 to August 8. The state of emergency will remain in effect from July 12 through August 22.
“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 Thursday, The AP reported.
The state of emergency will be in place in Tokyo and other major Japanese prefectures, including Chiba, Saitama, Kanagawa, and Osaka. Emergency measures currently in place on five other prefectures — Hokkaido, Aichi, Kyoto, Hyogo, and Fukuoka — are set to expire on Sunday.
Tokyo won’t shut down completely but the state of emergency order will require businesses like restaurants to adhere to an 8 p.m. curfew and a temporary alcohol ban. Tokyo residents are expected to follow stay-at-home orders.
However, Suga said that if the rate of vaccination increases and the infection rate goes down, the government may consider ending the state of emergency early.