Tokyo, 8 July 2021 (dpa/MIA) — International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach arrived in Japan on Thursday for the Tokyo Olympics which will take place under another state of emergency in the region.
Shortly after Bach’s arrival the Japanese government of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga announced the measure in response to increasing numbers of coronavirus infections.
The fourth state of emergency will be in effect from Monday, replacing a current and less strict quasi state of emergency. It is to run until August 22 provisionally, the government said.
The Olympics are scheduled for July 23-August 8, with the Paralympics following from August 24.
Another measure expected on Thursday to counter the spread of the virus is holding at least a number of Olympic events behind closed doors, and reportedly the opening ceremony as well.
That was to be decided in a joint meeting of the IOC, the Japanese organizing committee, and the Tokyo and Japanese governments.
Japan had initially planned to allow venues to be filled up to 50 per cent of capacity but with no more than 10,000 fans. Foreign fans were barred several months ago.
The state of emergency is not a lockdown with hard curfews as in other countries.
While citizens are called upon to stay at home if possible, restaurants are open but not allowed to serve alcohol, offer karaoke and have to close earlier than normal in the evening.
The Japanese have been asked to rather enjoy the Olympics from home, and also to travel less during the upcoming summer holidays.
Tokyo authorities on Thursday reported 896 new cases, the 19th day in a row that the figure was higher than that from the previous week.
Many people in Japan fear that the Games delayed from last year owing to the pandemic could become a “superspreader” event, and health experts have also raised concerns.
Suga’s government, Bach’s IOC and local organizers have however pledged safe Games amid a tight hygiene protocol for everyone involved.
Bach arrived at Haneda airport to oversee the final countdown. Reports said he went straight to his hotel and would observe a three-day quarantine.
There are various meetings in the run-up, including the IOC Session where Australia’s Brisbane is set to be elected host of the 2032 Olympics.