Organisers of this summer’s Tokyo Olympics say the games will go ahead without spectators after a surge in coronavirus cases.
Japan’s Olympics minister said organisers agreed that fans should not be allowed to attend, becoming the latest blow to the troubled Olympics.
The games was delayed by a year because of the pandemic and plagued by a series of setbacks, including massive budget overruns.
Seiko Hashimoto, president of this year’s Games, said the situation was “regrettable” and apologised to those who had bought tickets.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said Tokyo’s fourth state of emergency would begin on Monday – 11 days before the Games open – and end on 22 August, two days before the start of the Paralympics.
Tokyo reported 920 new infections on Wednesday. That compares with 714 last Wednesday and is the highest total since 1,010 were reported on 13 May. It announced 896 new cases on Thursday.
“Taking into consideration the effect of coronavirus variants and the need to prevent infections from spreading to the rest of the nation again, we need to strengthen our countermeasures,” Suga said. “Given the situation, we will issue a state of emergency for Tokyo.”
Weeks of quasi-emergency measures targeting Tokyo’s night-time economy have failed to prevent the latest wave of cases. The government will reimpose an unpopular ban on serving alcohol at bars and restaurants, which will also have to close early.