BREAKING NEWS: Fans are BANNED from the Tokyo Olympics with Japan in state of emergency amid spiralling Covid-19 cases
- The Tokyo Olympics will take place without spectators amid a Covid-19 crisis
- Japan has declared a state of emergency for its capital that runs through event
- Talks between government and organisers reached the decision on Thursday
- Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga is worried about spread of the Delta strain
- The Games will run between July 23 and August 8 but will now be diminished
- Find out the latest Tokyo Olympic news including schedule, medal table and results right here
Organisers of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics have agreed to hold the Games without spectators, after Japan declared a coronavirus state of emergency for the capital that will run throughout the event.
The widely-expected move was made following talks between the government, Tokyo organisers and Olympic and Paralympic representatives.
It was ‘regrettable’ that the Games were going to be held in a limited format, Tokyo 2020 President Seiko Hashimoto told a briefing, adding her apologies to those who had bought tickets.
No spectators will be allowed at the Tokyo Olympic Games amid a state of emergency
The Tokyo Olympics take place next month but Japan is gripped by a Covid-19 catastrophe
‘It is regrettable that we are delivering the Games in a very limited format, facing the spread of coronavirus infections,’ Hashimoto said.
‘I am sorry to those who purchased tickets and everyone in local areas.’
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said it was essential to prevent Tokyo, where the highly infectious Delta COVID-19 variant was spreading, from becoming the source of another wave of infections.
The ban all but robs the Tokyo Games, which are scheduled to run from July 23 to August 8, of their last hope for pomp and public spectacle.
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga has declared another state of emergency for Tokyo
The Games by numbers
ZERO: number of spectators
International spectators have been barred from entering Japan for the Games amid public concerns over COVID-19.
This will hit hotels, restaurants and the transportation sector, and is likely to result in an economic loss of 151 billion yen ($1.4 billion), the Nomura Research Institute estimated.
Organisers have now banned all domestic spectators from the Games too, as Japan declared a state of emergency for Tokyo that will run throughout the event to curb new infections.
Earlier, organisers had planned to put a cap of 50 per cent of venue capacity, up to a maximum of 10,000 people, for domestic spectators.
62 per cent: percentage of Japanese favouring postponement or cancellation
In a poll by the Asahi Shimbun daily published on June 21, 62 per cent of respondents said the Olympics should be postponed or cancelled, while 34 per cent said it should be held this summer.
The rate of those who favour holding the event in July and August as planned, however, was up from 14 per cent in May, as the opening ceremony of the Games, set for July 23, draws closer.
25: Vaccine doses administered per 100 people in Japan
About 25 vaccine doses have been administered per 100 people in Japan, far below levels in the rest of the G7 advanced economies, according to Our World in Data figures.
The equivalent number is 95 per 100 people in the United States and 79 in Germany.
The figures may not equal to the total number of people vaccinated as they receive multiple doses.
Some 85 per cent of Olympic delegations and 100 per cent of IOC members will be vaccinated ahead of the Games, the IOC has said.
80,000: number of daily COVID-19 tests on athletes and other personnel
Organisers expect to conduct up to 80,000 coronavirus tests a day on athletes, coaches and Games officials to ensure a safe and secure Olympics.
The Tokyo Games will rely on 230 doctors and 310 nurses a day, and organisers aim to fully secure necessary medical workers by the end of the month.
$15 billion: latest Olympics budget
The latest budget for the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics of 1.64 trillion yen ($15 billion, £11.2bn) is up 22 per cent from the previous one compiled before the postponement, and more than twice as big as the estimated budget of 800 billion yen when bidding for the Games took place.
The bill is split three ways among the organisers, Tokyo Metropolitan government and Japan’s central government, with the host city covering the biggest chunk.
Once seen as a chance for Japan to stand large on the global stage after a devastating earthquake a decade ago, the showpiece event was delayed by the pandemic last year and has been hit by massive budget overruns.
Medical experts have said for weeks that having no spectators would be the least risky option, amid widespread public fears that an influx of thousands of athletes and officials will fuel a fresh wave of infections.
Japan has not experienced the kind of explosive Covid-19 outbreaks seen elsewhere but has had more than 800,000 cases and 14,800 deaths.
The capital, Tokyo, reported 920 new daily cases on Wednesday, the highest since May 13.
A slow rollout has meant only a quarter of Japan’s population have had at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccination.
Shigeru Omi, the government’s top health adviser, told a parliamentary health committee on Wednesday it was important to reduce the number of Olympic officials and others attending events as much as possible.
Early July to September was ‘one of the most important periods’ in combating the coronavirus in Japan, he said.
‘We have been saying that it’s preferable that the events be held without spectators,’ Omi said.
‘We are asking many people to take steps to prevent further spread of the infection. Images of spectators would be sending out a contradictory message to a lot of people… In formulating our coronavirus response, people’s feelings are a very important factor.’
Tokyo authorities have also decided to move most of the torch relay, set to reach the capital on Friday, off public roads.
Torch-lighting ceremonies without spectators will be held instead.
The Olympics were originally expected to be a huge tourist draw, but banning foreign spectators put paid to hopes of an early recovery in inbound tourism, frozen since last year.
In 2019, Japan hosted 31.9 million foreign visitors, who spent nearly 4.81 trillion yen ($44 billion, £32bn). Numbers plunged 87 per cent in 2020 to just 4.1 million, a 22-year low.
Though highly unlikely now, a full cancellation would mean lost stimulus of 1.8 trillion yen, or 0.33 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP), the Nomura Research Institute said in a recent report.
But Nomura Research Institute executive economist Takahide Kiuchi said that loss would pale in comparison with the economic hit from emergency curbs if the Games turned into a coronavirus super-spreader event.
‘If the (Olympic Games) trigger the spread of infections and necessitate another emergency declaration, then the economic loss would be much greater,’ Kiuchi said.
Organisers said last December that the entire cost of holding the Games would be about $15.4 billion (£11.2bn), including $2.8 billion (£2bn) for the unprecedented postponement from 2020. Since then, the projected bill for postponement has risen to $3 billion (£2.15bn).
Organisers initially sold some 4.48 million tickets and the government had expected a tourism windfall, before first overseas visitors and then domestic spectators were ruled out.
Ticket revenues had initially been expected at about 90 billion yen ($815 million, £591m) but will now drop to virtually nothing.
Visitors pose with the Olympic rings at Tokyo International Airport ahead of the Games
Tokyo 2020 timeline
September 2013: Tokyo is awarded the 2020 Olympics after convincingly defeating rivals Istanbul and Madrid for the right to stage the Games for the second time, having first hosted them in 1964.
January 2020: The coronavirus is declared a global public health emergency by the World Health Organization as fears grow in Japan that the outbreak could threaten the Games.
February 2020: A number of international sporting events, including Olympic qualifying tournaments, are cancelled or postponed.
With under five months to go before the event, the deputy director general of the Tokyo 2020 Preparation Bureau at the city government says they have no Plan B for the Games despite alarm over the spread of the virus in Japan and elsewhere.
March 2020: Despite the organising committee stating earlier in the month that preparations would continue as planned and the International Olympic Committee saying it would proceed as per the original schedule, the Games are postponed by a year.
January 2021: Japan’s government continues with preparations to hold the Games, repeatedly insisting it will hold the event amid the pandemic despite opinion polls showing a majority of Japanese want them postponed again or cancelled.
March: The Olympic torch relay kicks off, beginning a four-month countdown to the Olympics, although celebrations are scaled back because of coronavirus curbs.
Organisers say international spectators will not be allowed to enter Japan during the Games, with a decision on local fans to be made in June.
May 18: The Tokyo Medical Practitioners’ Association throws its weight behind calls to cancel the Games, saying hospitals are overwhelmed as the country battles a spike in COVID-19 cases.
May 21: A Reuters survey finds nearly 70 per cent of Japanese firms want the Tokyo Olympics either cancelled or postponed.
May 26: The White House reaffirms its support for Tokyo’s plan to hold the Games and for U.S. athletes competing there despite the issuing of a government advisory against travel to Japan.
An editorial in the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun, an official partner of the Games, calls for the Olympics to be cancelled, citing risks to public safety and strains on the medical system.
May 27: The head of a Japanese doctors’ union says holding the Games in Tokyo could lead to the emergence of an ‘Olympic’ coronavirus strain, but a senior International Olympic Committee member says the Games will go on ‘barring Armageddon’.
June 13: The Group of Seven wealthy nations say in a communique after a leaders’ summit in Cornwall that they support the holding of the Tokyo Olympics this year.
June 23: Organisers release guidelines banning alcohol, high-fives and talking loudly for the reduced numbers of Olympic ticket holders allowed into venues, as Tokyo marks a month until the Olympics open.
June 29: Tokyo decides to move the first half of the 15-day Olympic torch relay scheduled to take place in the capital off public roads, the metropolitan government says, as coronavirus infection numbers show signs of surging again.
July 6: Organisers ask the public not to gather on the streets of Sapporo for the marathon and race walk, a decision World Athletics, the governing body for the sport, says is inconsistent with rules allowing up to 10,000 spectators in Tokyo venues, many indoors.
July 8: Olympic organisers decide to hold the Tokyo Games without spectators under coronavirus restrictions as Japan struggles to stem a new wave of infections with a state of emergency in Tokyo.
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