State of Emergency in Tokyo Expected to Be Extended Until March

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Photo Courtesy: The Japan Times

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The Japanese Government is expected to extend the state of emergency in Tokyo and 10 other prefectures where the coronavirus infection rate remains high until March 7, according to a report from Inside the Games. The state of emergency was set to expire on February 7 but is expected to be extended through March 7.

Tokyo, the host of this summer’s Olympics in 172 days, confirmed 393 COVID-19 cases on February 1, down from 633 the day before, but the totals from January still double December’s totals. Government officials have told Japanese news agency Kyodo News that Tokyo is highly likely to stay under the state of emergency.

For context, Japan as a nation reported 1,790 confirmed COVID-19 cases yesterday, compared to 5,730 in the U.S. state of Florida, which has offered to take the Olympics off of Japan’s hands.

The restrictions in place require a citywide curfew is in place until 8 p.m., meaning all restaurants and pubs will close at that time, and will receive a fine if they disobey these restrictions.

A recent Kyodo News survey found around 80% of Japanese people want this year’s Olympic and Paralympics to be cancelled or postponed.

IOC president Thomas Bach has full conviction in the Olympics taking place in Tokyo from July and insists there is no “plan B” leaving cancellation or going ahead as planned the only options.

Speculation has mounted in recent weeks that the Games are under threat following the rise in coronavirus cases and the imposition of lockdowns and a state of emergency in Tokyo.

The IOC responded to the latter by stating it had full confidence in the measures introduced by the Japanese authorities and that it was “fully concentrated and committed to the safe and successful delivery of the Olympic and Paralympic Games Tokyo 2020 this summer.”

The Japanese government and organizers of the upcoming scheduled Olympic Games have started weighing the option of holding an Olympics with no spectators on the assumption that Tokyo and the rest of the world may not successfully bring infections under control by July, officials said earlier this month, according to a story from Japanese agency Kyodo News.

“We have been doing all kinds of simulations. Basically, I don’t think (the games without fans) is something that would happen or something that I would like to do, but it won’t be a simulation unless we think about it,” Yoshiro Mori told reporters in Tokyo after holding a remote meeting with International Olympic Committee chief Thomas Bach.

Mori and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga have insisted that Japan will host a “safe and secure” Olympics in six months by implementing numerous anti-virus steps to protect the health of those involved, according to Kyodo.

The government is considering three options for Tokyo 2021:

  • not imposing a limit on spectators
  • placing a ceiling of 50 percent of the venues’ capacity
  • holding events behind closed doors, according to the officials.

A decision on spectators is expected to come by the end of the spring.

There have also been discussions among the Games organizers over athlete protocols upon arriving in Tokyo, as well as where Olympic athletes should be on the hierarchy of who receives the COVID vaccine.