Japan could ban all fans from Olympics with Tokyo set for state of emergency

Japan is considering banning all fans from the Olympics with authorities expected to declare a state of emergency for Tokyo, little two weeks before the Games are set to commence.

Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said his government would decide on new measures to stop the spread of the virus on Thursday.

Organisers have already banned overseas spectators and set a cap on domestic spectators at 50% of capacity, up to 10,000 people, to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

The Tokyo 2020 organising committee said restrictions on spectators would be based on the content of Japan’s coronavirus state of emergency or other relevant measures.

Japan has not experienced the kind of Covid-19 outbreaks seen in many other countries but has had more than 800,000 cases and 14,800 deaths.

Authorities have struggled to stamp out persistent clusters of infections, particularly in and around Tokyo, which reported 920 new daily cases on Wednesday, the highest since May 13.

A slow vaccine rollout has meant only a quarter of Japan’s population has had at least one COVID-19 vaccination shot.

The government will meet International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach and Tokyo organisers on Thursday or Friday to discuss the question of spectators.

Top government spokesman Katsunobu Kato said this week Suga had raised the possibility of holding the Games without spectators.

Earlier on Wednesday Toshiro Muto, the chief executive of the organising committee, said organisers were striving to ensure safety for everyone with effective public health measures against COVID-19.

Muto, addressing the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva by a recorded video, added: ‘Through the successful hosting of the Tokyo 2020 Games, we hope to show the world that people have the right to live healthier and happier lives, even in difficult circumstances.’

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.

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