#AceNewsReport – July.11: 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.
#CoronavirusNewsDesk – TOKYO: #Olympics2020 to be held without spectators amid #COVID19 state of emergency imposed
08/07/2021 – 09:43:
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.
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.
With just two weeks until the July 23 opening ceremony, coronavirus infections are rising in the capital, and the spread of the more infectious Delta variant has spooked officials.
“The number of new cases continues to rise in Tokyo,” warned Japan’s minister in charge of the virus response, Yasutoshi Nishimura, earlier on Thursday.
“As the movement of people increases, the more infectious Delta variant now accounts for around 30 percent of cases. This is expected to expand further,” he added.
While Japan has so far experienced a relatively small virus outbreak, with around 14,900 deaths despite avoiding harsh lockdowns, its vaccination programme has moved comparatively slowly.
Just over 15 percent of the population is fully vaccinated so far.
IOC chief Thomas Bach arrived in Tokyo on Thursday afternoon, and will have to undergo a three-day quarantine before being allowed limited movement.
Olympic participants generally will not have to observe a full 14-day quarantine, but will face restrictions during their time in Japan, with athletes limited to venues and the Olympic Village and tested daily for the virus.
Tokyo 2020 is struggling to build momentum and enthusiasm for the Games as the final countdown begins.
A torch relay that was supposed to stoke excitement as it travelled nationwide has been taken off public roads in much of the country over virus risks, and even the relay’s legs in the capital will be held without spectators.
Fans had been asked to avoid the route of the Olympic marathon when it is run in northern Hokkaido.
Polls show most Japanese would prefer the Games be postponed again or cancelled outright, though opposition has softened in recent weeks.
(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)
#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: July.11: 2021:
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