Amid COVID Surge, Tokyo Bans Fans From Olympics

City declares state of emergency
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 8, 2021 6:41 AM CDT
Updated Jul 8, 2021 9:13 AM CDT
Amid COVID Surge, Tokyo Olympics Look at Hard Choices
A security guard stands outside the National Stadium in Tokyo on Thursday.   (Shinji Kita/Kyodo News via AP)

The celebration was premature. Less than three weeks after it was announced that local fans would be allowed at the Summer Olympics, Japan reversed course on Thursday because of a surge in COVID cases, reports the AP. Per the New York Times and the AP, the city reported 920 new infections on Wednesday, which is the largest number since May, and then 896 on Thursday, making it the 19th day in a row that the number of cases surpassed the figure reached seven days earlier. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has announced that the resulting state of emergency, which is Tokyo's fourth since the pandemic began, begins Monday and runs through Aug. 22. The Olympics starts on July 23 and runs through Aug. 6.

"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 stressed while making his announcement. The Times notes that "Tokyo residents have taken each new state of emergency less seriously," with people milling in the streets during the current "quasi-emergency" originally set to lift Sunday—a sharp contrast to June 2020, when those streets were deserted. The new order requires restaurants to close early and to not serve alcohol, although most stores will stay open and public transportation will keep running, reports the Wall Street Journal. Locals had already purchased more than 3.5 million tickets to the Games. (More Tokyo Olympics stories.)

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